Christian funerals banned in China

Christian funerals are banned in some areas of China as the government begins to enforce new regulations on religious practices.

In the eastern province of Zhejiang, a set of Regulations on Centralized Funeral Arrangement are being enforced. These regulations ban priests from attending funeral prayers outside a religious place.

The new rules – enacted in December last year – aim to “get rid of bad funeral customs and establish a scientific, civilized and economical way of funerals,” according to the government.

“Clerical personnel are not allowed to participate in funerals” at homes and “no more than 10 family members of the deceased are allowed to read scriptures or sing hymns in a low voice,” the rules state.

A source says in villages priests could visit parishioners’ homes but could not conduct any religious ceremonies or prayers.

A priest of the open church approved by the state says government officials have asked for the Church to strictly follow the Regulations on Religious Affairs.

“Otherwise there would be penalties. The punishment could even be closing the church and cancelling the priest’s priesthood certificate, letting the priest go home,” he says.

He did not deny that the situation of the Chinese Church is worrying.

“It has been oppressed to this extent. I only do what I should do, otherwise I cannot face God,” he said.

“They don’t let me be a priest. If they don’t let me go to church, I’ll just go underground. Anyway, the church on the ground is now oppressed no differently from the underground. Be restrained.”

Communists hold memorial services when they die, he says.

“Why are we Catholics not allowed to hold a ceremony? This is exactly persecution,” he wonders

Another open church priest says the government instructions had not come to him so far.

“I still hold sacraments at the homes of dead parishioners. The day before yesterday, I sent a greeting to a church member from home to the cemetery. No one blocked it,” he says..

“As a priest, we need to accompany church members to make them feel like everyone is a family. Particularly, baptisms and funerals are very important for families.”


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