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Chinese bishops win electricity price cut

New deal means cheaper power to the people

Chinese bishops win electricity price cut

Wanghailou Church in Tianjin diocese, a national monument reporter, Beijing

July 9, 2013

While the price of basic commodities seems to rise relentlessly all over the world, China’s Catholics have received some welcome news.

Under a new electricity price scheme, religious venues have been re-classified as residential units instead of their former classification as government premises. The change should result in their bills being cut by as much as two thirds.

The exemption was secured by a group of five bishops, including two illegitimate bishops who are not recgnized by the Holy See, who requested it at a plenary meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, of which they are members, in March.

One of the five, Bishop Joseph Shen Bin of Haimen, told “The Church is not a profit making organization but the home of clergy and nuns. So it should be counted as residential.” 

The proposal was ratified in May and about 13,900 registered venues of the five government-recognized religions will now benefit from the reduction.

Although the government does not officially recognize the unregistered Catholic community, some of their venues will still enjoy the lower tariff, as they are either acknowledged as buildings of historical interest or have been legally registered through the help of the open community.

While the change has been generally welcomed by parish priests, a warning that “it may be just a gimmick,"came from one priest from the open community in Tianjin diocese. 

“What is more important for the Church is a change in religious policy to give us more freedom, not this kind of price reduction which is just a drop in the bucket for the government," he said. 

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