Persecuted and Betrayed: The Catholic Church Struggles for Survival in Communist China
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, China’s Communist government has relentlessly persecuted the Catholic faithful. In recent years, however, this religious persecution has dramatically spiked.
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On November 10, 2020, a Pew Research Center report named Communist China as one of the top countries for religious restrictions. “The Chinese government restricts religion in a variety of ways,” the study affirms, including “prohibiting certain religious practices, raiding places of worship and detaining and torturing individuals.”1
The Chinese “Iron Curtain”
This persecution includes the destruction of crosses and churches, and the kidnapping of Catholic clergy as communist officials work to suppress the Catholic Faith.
In March 2019, the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs in the city of Guangzhou offered rewards for those who snitched on “illegal religious activities.” A priest from the area observed how the government offered these rewards just before Easter. “At this time, we often meditate on the Passion of Jesus and Judas’ treachery for 30 pieces of silver,” said the priest. “The Guangzhou government wants to turn people into many mini Judases.”2
In the province of Fujian, Chinese authorities published a “Letter of commitment for those responsible for places of worship and for consecrated persons.” The draconian set of rules decreed that Catholic clergy must “prohibit the entry of minors into the Church,” and “consciously practice the fundamental values of socialism.” The document likewise asserts that “In the absence of permits, communities such as pastoral groups, choirs and bands cannot hold public events, nor, under the pretext of visiting the sick, evangelize in public places such as hospitals.”3
The Vatican-China Agreement: A Tragic Betrayal
While underground Catholics in China come to expect communist persecution, no one anticipated the September 2018 betrayal contained in the secret Vatican-China agreement. Although the terms of the agreement remain unknown, the results are public: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is appointing Catholic bishops. The nefarious deal effectively leads to the merging of the communist Chinese Patriotic Church and the long-faithful underground Catholic Church.
A year after this tragic agreement, in a letter dated September 27, 2019, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, Joseph Cardinal Zen wrote to the College of Cardinals requesting a response to the unabated persecution of Catholics in China.
In the letter, the prelate speaks for the persecuted flock in China. “Pardon the inconvenience my letter will cause you. It is just that, in conscience, I believe that the problem I present here concerns not only the Church in China, but the whole Church, and we cardinals have the grave responsibility to help the Holy Father in guiding the Church.”
The Cardinal concludes with an ardent plea: “Your Eminences, can we passively witness the murder of the Church in China by those who should protect and defend her from her enemies?”4
Compromise with Communism Makes Matters Worse
The new agreement was supposed to end the persecution. The contrary has happened. A January 8, 2020 report from the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), found that “Observers have described religious persecution in China over the last year to be of an intensity not seen since the Cultural Revolution.”
The CECC report denounces the Chinese government’s efforts to suppress the underground Church despite the Vatican-China agreement. “In September 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement with the Holy See, paving the way for the unification of state-sanctioned and underground Catholic communities,” the report notes. “Subsequently, local Chinese authorities subjected Catholic believers in China to increased persecution by demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy.”5
Growth Amid Persecution
Despite the uptick in religious persecution, the Catholic Church in China continues to grow. According to The Express, Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan, the senior research director of Open Doors USA, says the communist government fears the rapid growth of Catholicism in China.
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“We think the evidence as to why the Chinese Church is so targeted, is that the leaders are scared of the size of the Church, and the growth of the Church,” Dr. Boyd-MacMillan reports. “If it grows, at the rate that it has done, since 1980 and that’s about between seven and 8 percent a year, then you’re looking at a group of people that will be 300 million strong, nearly by 2030.”6
Our Lady of Deliverance, Intercede for China
While the persecution is intense, Chinese Catholics can turn with hope to Our Lady of Deliverance, Empress of China for spiritual protection and courage. During the Boxer Uprising in 1900, Europeans living in China faced the diabolical fury of a pagan Chinese sect that targeted and savagely butchered Catholics. Those who survived took refuge in the Beitang cathedral in Peking (modern-day Beijing) which was under the direction of the French Lazarist Bishop Pierre-Marie-Alphonse Favier, C.M.
Though besieged by 10,000 Boxer rebels, the outnumbered Catholics miraculously survived thanks to the protection of a “white Lady” who appeared atop the cathedral roof. This miracle was attributed to Our Lady of Deliverance, Empress of China, and a special chapel was built inside the cathedral in thanksgiving.7
By turning to Our Lady, Empress of China, faithful Catholics can find the grace and strength to endure and overcome this horrible persecution. May she protect and guide her faithful children who continue to resist the evils of communism.
Our Lady Empress of China, pray for us!
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1. Pew Research Center, "In 2018, Government Restrictions on Religion Reach Highest Level Globally in More Than a Decade," Nov. 10, 2020. https://www.pewforum.org/2020/...
2. Wang Zhicheng, "Guangzhou to encourage modern-day Judas with cash rewards for people to report on house churches," AsiaNews.it, March 29, 2019. http://www.asianews.it/news-en...
3. Bernardo Cervellera, "Suffocating the Chinese Church with 'independence', while applauding the China-Vatican agreement," AsiaNews.it, June 25, 2019. http://www.asianews.it/news-en...
4. Diane Montagna, "Cdl Zen urges cardinals to stop the ‘murder of the Church in China’", LifeSiteNews.com, Jan. 8, 2020. https://www.lifesitenews.com/n...
5. Martin Barillas and Pete Baklinski, "‘Intense’ spike in Christian persecution after China’s secret deal with Vatican: US gov’t report," LifeSiteNews.com, Jan. 9, 2020. https://www.lifesitenews.com/n...
6. True North Wire, "Communist China fearful as Christian population continues to grow dramatically," Jan. 27, 2021. https://tnc.news/2021/01/27/co...
7. America Needs Fatima, "Our Lady of Deliverance, Empress of China," AmericaNeedsFatima.org. https://www.americaneedsfatima...