A CHINESE WALL FOR THE CHRISTIANS
FR. WALDEMAR CISŁO
The Holy Father Benedict XVI set up a Day of Remembrance and Prayer for the Church in China which is celebrated on 24 May
China is a country of contrasts; the quickly developing economy, big foreign investments. China is a country which came out of the economic crisis (2008/2009) the fast. Despite the economic growth and slow getting rich by the society, what touches the ordinary citizens is the government’s control over their life, especially in the religious sphere. Belonging to the communist party, they are forbidden to participate in all forms of religious life (‘Religion is opium of people’ – Karol Marks). Some religious groups such as Falun Gong, have got a prohibition from acting and they are subjected to strong repressions. In some regions, including Tibet or an autonomic region Xinjiang Uyghur, the repressions of religious character are even getting intensified.
Repressions towards the Christians
Despite continuous persecutions, including arrests, the growth of interest in the religious life among the Chinese is noticed. According to the official data of the government of 2010, in China there are 16 million of protestants and over 5,3 million of the Catholics in the Church accepted by the state. However, unofficial statistics say that these data are much higher and show that in China there are 50-70 million of the Christians. The investigation centre from Hongkong estimates 12 million of the Catholics of the conspiratorial Church.
‘The Christians for catacombs’
The fact how difficult situation of the Christians in China is, is given in details by reports of the Papal Association Aid for the Church in Need (‘Persecuted and forgotten. Report about the persecutions of the Christians in the years 2009-2010’, p. 39-49). ‘The Christians of catacombs’ undertake different forms of protest against the imprisonment of bishops, priests and the faithful. On 3 May 2011 they decided to appeal to the General Association of the Representatives of People, that is, the parliament, demanding to stop persecutions, as the ‘China Aid’ reports. The signatories point out that the guarantee of the religious freedom written in the constitution, have remained only a blank record for 60 years. They ask the parliament to investigate the policy of the government in this area which allows for the activity of the Churches acknowledged by them. In response the Foreign Ministry stated that ‘the government guarantees the freedom to the citizens according to the law’. Having about 70-million believers of Christ on its area, among whom nearly 20 million people are the members of official Churches, the government is afraid of spreading ‘spring of people’, which happened in Arabic countries, for example in Egypt, Libya or Syria. Beijing is afraid of a ‘jasmine revolution’. The fact proving these concerns is strengthening of repressions towards illegal religious communities. In the recent weeks hundreds of people from the Protestant group Shouwang have been arrested. On 10 April 169 people were arrested and on 17 April – other 50 people. The arrests are still going on.
The Catholics are in a similar situation. There is an especially difficult situation in the diocese Suiyuan in Inner Mongolia. The community, remaining in peace for 20 years, has been suffering because of arrests of priests and laymen since January. On 31 January the administrator of the diocese Fr. Gao Jiangping was arrested and 30 priests must hide. The faithful stopped attending Divine services in order to protect priests from arrests. For strengthening the policy of repression towards the faithful there is a movement of great significance based on breaking the relationship with the Communist Party of China. According to the Global Centre for Leaving the Communist Party of China with its headquarters in New York, it was done by 100 million Chinese citizens. So, no wonder that there is aggression of the authority wanting to maintain its influences. The situation of the Catholic Church is dramatic. According to the ‘UCA News’, after the strengthening of the repression, about 30 priests remained under arrest. Arrests are supposed to force them to join the Patriotic Association. Two bishops – Jakob Su Zhimin from Baoding and Cosmo Shi Enxiang from Yixian – one of the fourteen, the latter one after ten years after the ‘disappearance’, are not in freedom. Ten other bishops remain in custody or in prison.
Solidarity with the Church in China
The Pope Benedict XVI in the Letter to the Church in China of 2007 set up the day of 24 May every year as the Day of Remembrance and Prayer for the Church in China. He writes in it: ‘I want this date to be your day of prayer for the Church in China. In this day the Catholic from the whole world, especially of the Chinese origin, will express their brotherly solidarity and care about you, asking Lord of history for a gift of maintaining in a testimony, certain that your past and present sufferings for the Holy Name of Jesus and your strong loyalty towards His deputy on the Earth will be rewarded, even if sometimes everything would seem a severe failure’.
Let’s want to undertake this request of the Holy Father Benedict XVI. The prayer is not the most spectacular means but extremely useful. In many countries the faithful have received freedom and peace for their brothers and sisters through their supplication. Let’s recall India or Sudan. Our association always emphasizes the rule of the three kings: information – prayer – material aid. In order to react to a fact, we must know about it, hence it is important for us to claim a fate of the Christians in China. The prayer is our duty and everybody can fulfil it. We ask those who feel this need of their heart for material support. Last year, we gave over 4 million zlotys to the Church in China.
More information on: www.pkwp.org