UCA News

Chinese and Taiwanese Churches to walk ‘hand in hand’

They met in China and discussed history of Catholicism, growth of Church and faith practices on both sides of Taiwan Strait
Some of the participants of May 22-25 seminar at Xiamen in Fujian province of China, pose for a photo.

Some of the participants of May 22-25 seminar at Xiamen in Fujian province of China, pose for a photo. (Courtesy: Xinde.Org)

Published: May 30, 2024 11:54 AM GMT
Updated: May 31, 2024 04:21 AM GMT

Catholic bishops and scholars from mainland China and Taiwan joined a seminar on inculturation and cooperation amid political tensions between the two nations.

Some 100 people, including priests, academics and other lay people joined the seminar at the Diocese of Xiamen in Fujian province in southeast China, Fides new agency reported on May 29.

Themed “Walking together in love, hand in hand," the May 22-25 seminar sought to forge better ties between Churches in mainland China and Taiwan.

Joseph Cai Bingrui of Xiamen said he was heartened to welcome “the brothers and sisters” of the large delegation from Taiwan led by Archbishop Thomas Chung An-zhu of Taipei and Bishop John Baptist Huang Min-Cheng of the Diocese of Tainan.

The event brought together experts from the Catholic dioceses of Taipei, Tainan, and Kiayi in Taiwan and Xiamen, as well as academics from Xiamen University, Huaqiao University, and Furen University (in Taipei).

The experts spoke and debated on the central theme, "The historical origins, the development of the Church and the process of inculturation of Catholicism in Fujian and Taiwan.”

The discussion also touched on the interactions between both sides and the achievements of the respective Churches in the inculturation process.

Some interventions focused on the possible developments of an “inculturated Catholic theology” in the Chinese context, starting from its roots in tradition.

On May 24, the feast of St. Mary Help of Christians and the date of the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, the Taiwanese delegation made a pilgrimage to Gaopu, in the diocese of Xiamen, birthplace of Monsignor Joseph Cheng Zaifa.

Cheng, who died in 2022, was the archbishop of Taipei from 2004 to 2007.

After visiting the churches and the commercial port, the event concluded with a Eucharistic liturgy concelebrated in the church of Hou Ban, the birthplace of lay Catholic Li Buchi.

Li, who arrived in Taiwan in 1859, is recognized as a pioneer of the second phase of the island's evangelization, along with the Spanish Dominicans, who had already been based in the province of Fujian for two centuries. 

China views Taiwan as a renegade province, and on numerous occasions, it has threatened to annex the island with a military invasion.

Taiwan never officially declared independence and does not have United Nations membership, allegedly at China's behest. However, it maintains diplomatic and economic relationships with various nations, including the Vatican.

The United States is Taiwan’s most potent ally despite not having any formal diplomatic relations.

Political tensions erupted in the Taiwan Strait in recent months after Taiwan alleged the Chinese Communist Party of attempting to influence the general elections in January, in which the pro-democracy Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the polls for the third consecutive term.

William Lai Ching-te, the new president, was inaugurated on May 20. Following the ceremony, he called on Beijing to stop its “intimidation” and allow Taiwan to decide its future.

About four percent of Taiwan’s estimated 24 million people are Christians.

In 2018, the Chinese government declared there were 44 million Christians in the country, including 38 million Protestants and six million Catholics among its 1.4 billion people. 

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