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Chinese officials stress sinicization during Shanghai church visit

New Shanghai bishop, who leads state-initiated organizations, was installed without a papal mandate
Young Chinese Catholics attend the Christmas Eve mass at a Catholic church in Beijing on December 24, 2015

Young Chinese Catholics attend the Christmas Eve mass at a Catholic church in Beijing on December 24, 2015 (Photo by WANG ZHAO / AFP)

Published: May 10, 2023 07:58 AM GMT
Updated: May 10, 2023 08:00 AM GMT

Regional officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) visited Shanghai diocese on May 8 to study the local Church’s progress on the implementation of socialist policies, a month after China installed a new bishop there without Vatican approval.

Shanghai’s newly installed Bishop Joseph Shen Bin welcomed three officials of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in the diocese. They also jointly unveiled a studio the diocese built, a report on the Shanghai diocesan website said.

The three-member team included the conference’s vice chair, Qian Feng, its director for the regional working committee, Yu Xiufen, and Xu Mei, the conference's deputy director of the Ethnic and Religious Committee.

Shen briefed the officials on the current situation of Shanghai diocese and efforts to implement the CCP's sinicization policy, the report said.

Sinicization is a political ideology promoted by the CCP that aims to impose strict rules on societies and institutions based on the core values of socialism, autonomy, and supporting the leadership of the party, across ethnic and religious communities in China.

Shen was appointed bishop of Haimen, with both government recognition and a papal mandate in 2010. The state-controlled Church appointed him bishop of Shanghai on April 4, apparently violating the Vatican-China agreement of 2018 on the appointment of bishops.

Shen is reportedly the head of the state-run Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, which the Vatican does not recognize. In 2017 he was also the vice president of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the state-initiated organization administering the Church in China.  

During the meeting with the officials, Shen was accompanied by senior clergy, including Father Ignatius Wu Jianlin, a CPPCC political advisor, and Father Gu Zhangjun, vicar-general of the diocese that covers China’s largest city and major economic hub.

The Catholic Church in Shanghai has a long history with a large number of Catholics, who have played an important role in the city's economic and social development, Feng told the meeting.

Lay Catholics and religious in the diocese should improve their “political standing” and conscientiously study the spirit of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party, the official said according to the diocesan report.

Feng urged Catholics to adhere to the direction of the sinicization of religion, and actively guide religion to adopt socialism. 

“At the same time, we must closely focus on the two major themes of unity and democracy, unite and guide the majority of religious believers to forge ahead on a new journey, build a new era, and build consensus and gather strength for the high-quality development of Shanghai's economic society and various undertakings,” he said.

Shen thanked the party leaders for their concern and support for the work of the Catholic Church in Shanghai, the report said.

The Catholic community in Shanghai “must have a political identity and adhere to the leadership of the party. The process of performing their duties must reflect political requirements, consider the effect of rectification, and stick to the political bottom line,” the bishop said.

“It is necessary to fully display the positive factors in Catholic culture, unite the priests and believers, serve the Church, integrate into society, and contribute to the economic and social development of Shanghai and the healthy and stable development of the Catholic Shanghai diocese,” the bishop added.

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1 Comments on this Story
Unfortunately, the Vatican started all this, by allowing the Chinese gov't to chose the bishops and now here we are, with the Chinese gov't thinking they can control the Church and essentially, they are. One never wins by making deals with the devil and I know, I used to live in Beijing.
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