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State launches religious charity campaign
Faith groups urged to provide "standardized" supportReligious leaders and government officials at the opening ceremony (Photo courtesy of State Administration for Religious Affairs)
- ucanews.com reporter, Wuhan
- September 18, 2012
The weeklong campaign from September 17-23 began with an opening ceremony and conference in Wuhan city, capital of central Hubei province. About 200 representatives from government-recognized Buddhist, Catholic, Islamic, Protestant and Taoist groups, officials and scholars were present.
In his message to the ceremony, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu urged religious groups to carry out the document's suggestionsÂ and seize the opportunity to promote charitable services in a long-term, institutionalized and standardized manner.
The document, issued by the SARA and five central government departments, supported religious groupsâ€™ participation in public charity and aimed to ensure that these groups receive the same treatment as other social organizations.
In addition, the new regulations clearly define the forms, principles and preferential measures available for religious groups to carry out charity activities.
Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin, head of the government-sanctioned Bishopsâ€™ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, represented the religious sector in reading out a joint statement. The bishop, who is not recognized by the Vatican, said that to achieve healthy and sustainable development, religious groups should participate in charity activities â€śaccording to law, with pure motivation as well as open, transparent and standardized operations.â€ť
A SARA press releaseÂ datedÂ yesterday said there are nearly 5,500 religious groups, about 130,000 sites for religious activities, 360,000 clergy and more than 100 million religious believers in China.
It cited incomplete statistics that money donations for charitable purposes from the religious sector amounted to three billion yuan (US$475 million) in the last five years, of which 250 million yuan were from Catholics.
Besides making donations, the religions have also actively participated in public welfare and charity activities by extending their service spheres and targets.
â€śThey have gradually transformed from simply meeting material needs of service targets to paying full attention to their psychological, spiritual and social needs; from a scattered, spontaneous and monotonous state to a systematic, organized and diversified situation,â€ť the press release said.
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