Wariness greets China church donation drive

State-sponsored support of Relief Donations Day only gives Catholic charity a 'bad name'
Wariness greets China church donation drive

A nun from Jinde Charities talks with a survivor of in the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008. (Photo supplied)

ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
April 3, 2017
A donations day to support relief efforts of a church-run charity in China has met with skepticism by some Catholics because it is being supported by state-aligned church bodies. 

Open church dioceses in China are currently appealing to their Catholics to support the first Relief Donation Day on the Palm Sunday April 9.

The charity day is an initiative of pro-government Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) and the bishops' conference but will be run jointly with Jinde Charities, the social arm of the church in China.

A circular put out by the CCPA and the bishops' conference said that past relief efforts need to be improved upon and outlined how this would be carried out.

The initiative, however, was met with skepticism by Chinese Catholics who see the CCPA as a tool of the government to control the church. Some laypeople see Relief Donation Day as "just an act of formality" like a show that it would only bring a bad name to Jinde Charities which is the first registered national Catholic NGO in China. It closely collaborates with the Caritas organizations in some countries.

Father Joseph, a priest of the open church community, said the circular may be about charity on the surface but the undertone is to continue stressing the leadership of the CCPA over the church in China.


Circular details

The circular said that both the CCPA and the bishops' conference had made use of Jinde Charities to participate in relief efforts over the past 20 years.

"But these efforts are ad hoc appeals with limited donation and inconvenient channels that needs better collaboration and integration," the document said.

The circular said that the China Church should prepare its donation efforts to be better prepared for any future natural disasters. Catholic clergy and laypeople across the country should participate in relief efforts, the circular said.

To guarantee legality and transparency, CCPA and the bishops' conference will publish a donation report through Catholic media. The Jinde Charities will provide tax-exempt receipts to individuals and enterprises, it added.

Bishops Xiao Zejiang of Guizhou and Tang Yuange of Chengdu told Faith Press, a sister organization of Jinde Charities, that the move was needed, citing occurrences of snow storm and Wenzhuan earthquake in their respective areas in 2008.

"We accepted help from Catholics in and outside China then. Now it should be our turn to help others," said Bishop Xiao.

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