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Priests slam state comments on religion
Officials should respect people's right to religious freedom, they sayCatholic Pilgrims pray at the Sheshan Marian Shrine in Shanghai
- ucanews.com reporter, Shanghai
- August 3, 2012
The US State Department on Monday identified eight ‚Äúcountries of particular concern‚ÄĚ including China in its annual International Religious Freedom Report.
It said there was a marked deterioration during 2011 in the Chinese government‚Äôs respect for and protection of religious freedom.
In response, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei as saying yesterday, ‚ÄúThe Chinese people are best qualified to judge China's religious situation.‚ÄĚ
He urged the US to discard prejudice, respect the facts and view China's policy on religion and religious freedom in an objective and impartial way.
He also called on the US to stop using religious issues to interfere in China‚Äôs internal affairs and not to act in ways that damage bilateral relations, mutual trust and cooperation.
After hearing the ministry‚Äôs reply, one Shanghai priest said, ‚ÄúI would not have offered an opinion in the past. But after the recent incident in my diocese, I think what other people [the US] have said is not without reason.‚ÄĚ
He was referring to Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, who was restricted from exercising his episcopal ministry after he proclaimed at his July 7 ordination he would quit the government-sanctioned Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA).
‚ÄúChinese officials should no longer work behind closed doors and feel good about themselves. They should learn to respect their people‚Äôs freedom,‚ÄĚ said the priest who requested anonymity.
‚ÄúAre the Chinese people really qualified to judge? Do we judge from our inner hearts or from someone‚Äôs will? We have no right to judge; otherwise the Bishop Ma incident would not have happened,‚ÄĚ he added.
Referring to China‚Äôs apparent disregard for international opinion, he said, ‚ÄúWhy is it that China does not have friends on the international stage? How can you expect others to respect you when you don‚Äôt respect your own people‚Äôs rights?‚ÄĚ The priest urged Beijing to reflect on its religious policy.
Another priest, Father John Baptist, mocked Foreign Ministry claims, calling them self-confident.
‚ÄúThe CPA‚Äôs function has gone far beyond its claim as a bridge between the Church and the government," he said. "In fact, it became a tool to control the Church without revealing the ruling authority is the real executioner.‚ÄĚ
China‚Äôs so-called religious freedom merely exists within a sphere limited by the government, which ‚Äúallows you to believe in an ‚Äėalien Catholicism‚Äô that does not comply with the orthodox Catholic faith,‚ÄĚ said Father John Baptist.
‚ÄúCan this be called freedom?‚ÄĚ he asked.
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