Authorities say government will now ordain bishops not the Church
The Chinese government continues to tighten its grip on Christianity. The latest move against Christians is to exert influence on the nation’s two government-controlled Catholic organizations to agree to ordain bishops “under the leadership of the government” rather than the Vatican. At a recent coalition meeting, the bishops’ conference and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association also agreed to convert unregistered clergy to the open church. government-elected bishops.
The Vatican is meant to elect church leaders, and not the government. Back in 2010 the Vatican condemned such actions saying that they “manifest a repressive attitude with regard to the exercise of religious liberty, which it was hoped had been consigned to the past in present-day China.” Religious freedom and Christian organisations that have been monitoring the ongoing crackdown on Christianity in China, stated :
“A primary reason for this is to maintain that the government has no influence in the inner workings and teachings of the Church. China is attempting to control Christianity in two ways; demolishing the Christian image and arresting leaders, and manipulating them through a government run church”.
Recent reports from China say that Catholic officials along with Protestant church leaders and Islamic leaders will soon also be required to carry around ID cards, just like Buddhist monks, or else risk losing the right to preach. Such identification credentials for Christian leaders will mark them out and may drive many churches and their leaders underground as a result.
Although Christianity is going through difficult times in China, the number of Christians continues to grow. This is a testament of the power of the Gospel, “The top leadership is very increasingly worried about the rapid growth of Christian faith, their public presence, and their social influence”.stated China Aid President Bob Fu.
The crackdown on Christians started in late 2014 with the forced removal of hundreds of church crosses across several Chinese provinces, and the arrests of underground church pastors and members of their congregations who stood up to church demolitions and removal of crosses.Earlier this year Chinese authorities arrested Pastor Gu Yuese of Hangzhou’s Chongyi Church, the largest government sanctioned church in China. He was formally charged with embezzlement of church funds, but Christian activists believe that Rev Gu was targeted because he actively campaigned against the removal of crosses..