Bishop's speech 'ignored Chinese religious repression'

Academic says speech to Taiwan conference failed to reflect Communist Party's tightened religious policy
Bishop's speech 'ignored Chinese religious repression'

Bishop Gan Junqiu gives a speech at the ninth Fu Jen Academia Catholica International Conference at Taiwan Fu Jen Catholic University on May 4. ( photo) reporters, Hong Kong
May 8, 2018
A Chinese bishop's speech at a conference in Taiwan has been criticized for not reflecting the truth about religious repression on the mainland.

Bishop Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou spoke about contemporary Catholic theological education and cultural construction in China at the ninth Fu Jen Academia Catholica International Conference hosted by Taiwan Fu Jen Catholic University on May 4-5.

In the discussion session, Sister Beatrice Leung Kit-fun, a Sino-Vatican relations specialist at Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages of Kaoshing, asked the bishop how the church responded to the Sinizication of religion driven by President Xi Jinping.

The bishop replied that the policy did not solely target the Catholic Church but all five major religions. He added that the church has put emphasis on inculturation of the Christian faith since the Second Vatican Council, and the policy of religious Sinicization would not violate Catholic doctrines even though it is not exactly the same as the spirit of inculturation.

The Precious Blood sister told that Bishop Gan's visit to Taiwan was authorized and even arranged by the Chinese Communist Party.

Regarding recent tensions between China and the United States, Beijing hoped that church members in Taiwan would stand on the side of China, Sister Leung said.

She said the bishop's speech had a positive tone but never mentioned crosses being forcibly removed from Chinese churches, minors being prohibited from attending churches or Catholic kindergartens being seized.

His speech failed to reflect the Communist Party's tightened religious policy, she said.

Bishop Gan, who is approved by the Vatican and China, was the first Chinese senior cleric to visit Taiwan since "illegal" Bishop Liu Xinhong of Anhui privately visited Taiwanese church communities in 2015.

Emeritus Cardinal John Tang Hon of Hong Kong and Emeritus Archbishop Joseph Ti-kang of Taipei also attended the conference.

Bishop Gan told the conference that the quality of Catholic academic activities on the mainland had been gradually improving but most people are secular scholars.

He said Chinese society had always misunderstood the church. In the early days, the academic community had been constrained by ideology to distort Christianity, while in recent years Christmas had been boycotted and scholars had opposed the construction of a church in Confucius' hometown Qufu.

He believed church members had avoided social and public issues, causing many to believe that "the church fails to care about society, and society cannot understand the church."

Bishop Gan said the church should be more concerned about social affairs so that Catholic culture could enter the public space of Chinese society through theological studies and social services.

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