Friday, May 05, 2006

Battle for God in China

Inter-religious wars are brutal. Each group thinking their side has divine support while the others merely worship air. Intra-religious battles; however, can be even more brutal. The enemy is not some heathen who does not know better but a heretic apostate who knew and rejected the truth. The bloody Sadr-Zaraqawi tick-for-tat antics demonstrate this well. The battles do not have to be physical. The battles can be like the current conflict between the Catholic Church and the People's Republic of China.

In the last few weeks strange news was coming from China. The Communist (yet capitalistic) government announced it may allow the government-approved Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association to be absorbed into the Catholic Church. In return the Vatican would end recognition of Taiwan and recognize the PRC.

The talks were going well until China announced it would ordain two bishops without Rome’s approval. The Hong Kong Roman Catholic Cardinal responded by calling for talks to end. The Vatican is now debating whether or not to excommunicate the bishops. Currently it is mulling over reports that state the "bishops" were under duress.

American Papist is having an updated rundown of the account at The Chinese Excommunications: Finding Answers.

The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association was formed because the Communist government thought an independent religion could bring down governments. It has rejected Catholic law changes since the 1950s including Vatican II. For a while they even did Latin Mass until changes were made in the 1990s to bring Mass in line with other Catholic Masses. Estimates state 80% of the Chinese bishops are in secret union with Rome. Most bishops appointed by the government ask for approval from Rome first.

The Catholic Church is not the only religion run by the Communists:

Christians in China not under government control practice in "house churches" and have reasonable fear of government clamp downs. While only a minority of Chinese is Christian; the People's Republic of China is in the top five countries with most Christians according to Philip Jenkins in his book The Next Christendom.

It will be interesting to see what happens. Will the Church and Communists resume dialog, will Benedict XVI fight government-control like John Paul II did and inspire new Lech Walesa's, or will the status quo hold of both sides ignoring each other? Only time will tell.

Category: Religion

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