Chinese Catholics: Integrating piety and entrepreneurship
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Middle class Catholic migrants in Guangzhou believe China's government will at some point understand their goodwill
A worshipper with rosary beads pictured at an "underground" church in Tianjin, near China’s capital Beijing. In the southern city of Guangzhou, middle class Catholic migrants — beneficiaries of China's economic rise — make a big effort to come together to pray. (Photo by AFP)
The rapid growth of Chinese Protestantism has been a matter of note for a couple of years, even leading to the bold prediction that in time China will become the country with the most Christians in the world. And since last year, when 1,800 crosses were taken off churches in Zhejiang, the increasing influence of the province’s entrepreneurial Christians has become a significant factor in understanding what is happening among Christians in the country.
By comparison, many view Chinese Catholics as less dynamic and primarily concerned with religious piety. However, the current situation in the southern city of Guangzhou, and elsewhere as well, challenges these assumptions.
A look at the less visible part of the Guangzhou Diocese, which is not an "underground" community, is revealing. It is made up of numerous Catholic migrants from other provinces — Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi among them — who arrived in the southern capital over the past 20 years. These people are extremely entrepreneurial and flexible, having migrated to the region in search of prosperity and for a way to support their families.
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