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BEIJING (ChurchMilitant.com) - Communist China is revving up for its 100th birthday on July 1 by pushing churches to promote the State's propaganda.
Authorities are ordering the churches allied with the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) to study and celebrate the Communist Party ahead of the 100th anniversary of its founding. The CPCA, established in 1957 to "supervise" the activities of Chinese Catholics, is busy doing the bidding of the larger party to align religious doctrine with atheistic communism.
Liu Yuanlong, the vice president of the CPCA and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference's national committee (CPPC), wrote that "God has chosen the Chinese Communist Party," according to the Hong Kong–based Apple Daily.
Yuanlong invoked Scripture to justify the iron-fisted leadership of the Chinese Communist Party by citing the Old Testament: "For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers" (Proverbs 11:14). He added, "We have to firmly support the Chinese Communist Party, with Xi Jinping at its core. We listen to and follow the Party."
Prelates got in on the propagandizing as well.
Bishop John Fang of the diocese of Shandong — who's also the CPCA's president — promised the association will continue to "deepen the sinicization of the Catholic religion," indicating the infusion of communist China into the Church instead of Christ's Church converting communist China.
"We maintain a high degree of alignment with the [communist] party and walk firmly on the path of loving the country and the religion," the bishop added.
Communists have set up measures to dissuade any dissenters. The party has issued warnings of "consequences" to anyone thinking about distorting the history of China or defaming communist heroes. The cyberspace administration launched a website and hotline so that citizens can report on fellow citizens who are "historical nihilists."
The CPPC has been a millstone around the neck of many faithful Catholics. It has facilitated a decades-long persecution of Catholics — one replete with imprisonment, torture and murder of both laymen and religious, which the Vatican has sought to address.
Pope Pius XII deplored the CPCA and in his 1958 encyclical Ad Apostolorum Principis, declared that bishops who participated in consecrating new bishops selected by the Chinese Communist Party are to be excommunicated.
In Ad Sinarum Gentem ("To the People of China"), written in 1954 against the backdrop of ongoing persecution of the Chinese, Pope Pius XII wrote:
In recent years ... the conditions of the Catholic Church in your midst have not improved in the least. The accusations and calumnies against the Apostolic See and those who keep themselves faithful to it have increased.
We know that these words of our previous Apostolic Letter were not able to reach you. So we willingly repeat them for you by means of this encyclical. We know too, to our great mental comfort, that you have persevered in your firm and holy resolve, and that no force has succeeded in separating you from the unity of the Church. For this we heartily congratulate you and give you deserved praise.
Pius XII emphasized further reason to praise the Chinese faithful, and signaled a way to negotiate the dilemma of State and Church:
In the daily and prolonged trials in which you find yourselves, you follow only the just way when you give, as becomes Christians, respectful homage to your public authorities in the field of their competency. Moved by love of your country, you are ready to fulfill all your duties as citizens. But it is also a great consolation for us to know that when the occasion has arisen, you have openly affirmed, and still affirm, that you can in no way stray from the precepts of the Catholic religion and that you can in no way deny your Creator and Redeemer, for Whose love many of you have faced torture and prison.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to the Chinese people in 2007, likewise acknowledging the double bind facing the Catholic Church in communist China, yet emphasizing "authentic," — not propagandized — "religious freedom":
The civil authorities are well aware that the Church in her teaching invites the faithful to be good citizens, respectful and active contributors to the common good in their country, but it is likewise clear that she asks the State to guarantee to those same Catholic citizens the full exercise of their Faith, with respect for authentic religious freedom.
Under Pope Francis, the Vatican entered into a secret pact with communist China in 2018 (which it renewed it in 2020) that so far has resulted in even greater suffering for Chinese Catholics.
The words of Cdl. Ignatius Kung — who suffered greatly at the hands of the communists and whose life extended over much of the hundred years China is about to celebrate — expressed poignantly the situation of Chinese Catholics: "If we renounce our Faith, we will disappear, and there will not be a resurrection. If we are faithful, we will still disappear, but there will be a resurrection."