Sharing ‘love of God’ is evangelisation in China

evangelisation in China

Hong Kong Cardinal Stephen Chow has spoken about his vision for evangelisation in China. He emphasised sharing the love of God without the primary goal of converting individuals to Catholicism.

“I think it is important that we say that Pope Francis made a distinction. Evangelisation is really to help people to understand the love of God — and the love of God without the agenda of turning them into Catholics. Because that shouldn’t be the focus, as that focus would be very restrictive,” Chow said.

During an interview in Rome on September 28, Chow (pictured) referenced Pope Francis’ distinction between “evangelisation” and “proselytism”.

“Evangelisation is essentially witness,” Francis told the Jesuits in Mozambique in 2019. “Proselytising is convincing, but it is all about membership and takes your freedom away.”

Cardinal Chow echoed this sentiment. He emphasised that the focus of evangelisation should be on helping people understand God’s love as a source of goodwill and a better life.

“And it does not begin by trying to convince others, but by witnessing every day to the beauty of the love that has looked upon us and lifted us up,” he said.

Religious restrictions in China

Considering increased religious restrictions in China, Cardinal Chow’s message of evangelisation there has added significance.

Catholic priests can minister only in recognised places of worship. People under the age of 18 are prohibited from entering.

Recent government measures further limit religious activities to government-approved venues. The display of religious symbols outdoors is banned and requires preaching to align with “core socialist values”.

Despite these challenges, two mainland Chinese bishops have been permitted to travel to Rome to participate in the Synod on Synodality assembly in October. There, Cardinal Chow will serve as a synod delegate, personally nominated by Pope Francis.

Cardinal Chow said he is “excited that the laypeople – men and women  – and religious are represented as full voting members.”


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