What is really going on in China with the Catholic Church?

The latest missive of the gentlemanly Sandro Magister is a very good analysis of Church in China.  

First, there a bit of history of the Holy See’s support for a clandestine Church in Church.  Then there is a "state of the question" section based on the reports of Fr. Bernado Cervellera of Asia News.

What emerges is a fascinating picture of an internal struggle between those backing Hu Jintao’s gestures toward members of religious faiths and, on the other hand, the Patriotic Association (the "official" Church backed by the PRC).  As Hu said, "Social harmony must be defended among the religious faithful, and their requests and demands must be heard".

This doesn’t settle well with the bosses of the Patriotic Association, many of whom are lining their pockets at the expense of the faithful they are supposed to be serving.

Here are some interesting points.

First, the article cites numbers of religious believers in China.  They are big.  There are various Patriotic Associations for different religions.  That said, "an official investigation had shown that there are a good 300 million believers in China. Fr. Cervellera observes: ‘That means that at least 200 million Chinese do not fall within the official structures controlled by the Patriotic Associations.’

Second, many members of the Communist Party in the PRC are believers.  They therefore mut attend the clandestine churches, because they are officially forbidden public worship.  Thus they can’t attend Patriotic Association churches.

Third, the Patriotic Association, which manages the properties confiscated from the Catholic Church, is retaliating against greater openness to "clandestine" Catholics by Hu Jintao’s crowd by selling off and/or renting out property used for religious activities.  They pocket the earnings.

Fourth, the upsurge of persecutions of clergy, religious and lay Catholics of the "clandestine" Church is being orchestrated by the Patriotic Association as part of an internal struggle for power.

Read the article by Magister and check out AsiaNews often.

Some figures from China

Catholics: 12,000,000
Dioceses: 138
Adult baptisms in 2004: 150,000

THE OFFICIAL CHURCH

Bishops: 67
Priests: 1,870
Seminaries: 14
Seminarians: 580
Sisters: 3,500
Novitiates: 40
Novices: 800

THE CLANDESTINE CHURCH

Bishops: 44
Priests: 1,100
Seminaries: 10
Seminarians: 800
Sisters: 1,700
Novitiates: 20
Novices: 800

Bishops in prison or missing: 17
Priests in prison: 20

Sources: Holy Spirit Study Center of Hong Kong, Asia News.

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