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China Uses Covid-19 to Close
Underground Churches

Margaret C. Galitzin
As the Vatican subserviently negotiates with Chinese Communism to continue the 2018 agreement that recognizes the government-controlled Chinese Patriotic Association (CPA) and its bishops, China is taking full advantage of this attitude of Rome and, under pretext of protecting people from the Covid contagion, is trying to put an end to the faithful Underground Catholic Church.

masks vatican china

Francis donates masks to China to protect the people's bodies, but ignore their souls

In China thousands of Underground Catholics were unable to assist at the August 15 Assumption Day Mass, forbidden to do so under the excuse that the Covid-19 virus made gatherings unsafe, despite the fact that most public places are open everywhere in China.

Nonetheless, the CPA churches were allowed to hold Assumption Day services although strongly patrolled by police to limit the number of attendees at the Masses to 10 persons. Other restrictions include temperature checks, registration of personal information and a ban on children.

The Chinese government, consistent with its increased policy of persecution, is demanding that the priests of the Underground Church officially join the CPA in order to re-open their churches. Clearly, this is not about the Covid-19 panic. The Chinese government is using the epidemics to force the "unity" of the CPA and Underground Churches, an illicit "union" that Francis encourages and Benedict XVI promoted.

This disastrous union aims to completely eradicate the Underground Church and give full control of the Catholics in China to the Communist government.

The choice: resist & suffer or join the CPA

Paul Lu, a sacristan in a northern Chinese Underground Church, told UCA News that the local government has been forcing priests of his parish to join the communist CPA or face the consequences. If the priest refuses, officials threaten to shut down the church.

crosses churches

China escalates its persecution, above, removing crosses from churches, below, demolishing a Catholic nursing home in Minquing County

When his church was closed in early August for a second time, supposedly because of the Covid crisis, he came to the obvious conclusion: "This is clearly the government threatening the priest to join the Chinese Patriotic Association."

His fear is that his church will be simply taken over by the government and given to the CPA. Sadly, he along with many of the Underground Church parishioners will accept the change – albeit reluctantly – since it has the Vatican stamp of approval.

Why will many accept the CPA control? Because resistance means open persecution: fines, arrest and even torture. Threats are made that children of Underground Catholics will not be able to attend schools and government work or subsidies will be denied the families.

Since the signing of the Vatican-China Deal of 2018, the situation of the Underground Church has gone from bad to worse, since the Chinese Communist Party now claims that the Underground parishioners are being disloyal both to the Party and to the Vatican. "What the Vatican-China agreement is bringing is ruin," said one Underground priest, who chose for safety to remain anonymous.

Catholic churches are destroyed without any given reason, or "repurposed” by the communists. Statues of Our Lady, Our Lord and crosses are tore down, and those who protest are threatened with arrest. The priests who refuse to join the CPA are driven out or arrested, detained and, in some cases, sentenced to prison terms or sent to camps to undergo "re-education."

Even Bishops are attacked. On September 1, 2020, Underground Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin from Wenzhou was kidnapped by the police and put in isolation to receive indoctrination. His crime is that although he is a recognized Bishop by the Holy See he has not been approved by the communist government because he refuses to sign with the CPA.

Bishop Shao

Bishop Shao Zhumin, abducted five times by police to try to make him sign on with the CPA

Bishop Shao has been abducted by the police at least five times in the last two years and undergone a seven month imprisonment. So far he has refused to bend to the Vatican diktat to adhere to the CPA. We should pray for this Bishop to continue to persevere in his good stand.

Another case is Bishop Guo Xijin of Mindong Diocese, who was demoted to Auxiliary Bishop by Pope Francis so that a CPA Bishop could replace him. Despite strong pressure from the Vatican, Msgr. Guo Xijin refused to sign on with CPA. Consequently, he was expelled in January 2020 from the residence by the Religious Affairs Office and forbidden to enter the church. Some months later, when he was readmitted the communists cut off his water, electricity and gas supplies.

Handing the sheep to the wolves

The Vatican carefully turns its face and pretends not to see the forceful treatment of the faithful Catholics it should be protecting. In face of the growing controversy, it finally issued new guidelines in June 2020 in Italian, English and Chinese about its position. These guidelines could not be more disappointing.

The document is negative toward those who remain in the Underground Church, feebly offering a "clarification" that Catholic Bishops and priests who once belonged to the Underground Church can join the Patriotic Church, but are not compelled to do so.

Yunnan

Above, the Virgin Mary Hall, Yunnan Province, replaced by this structure; below, tombstones with Catholic symbols are being demolished

tombstones china demolish

It goes on to state that "it respects the choice of those who in conscience decide that they are unable to register [with the CPA] under the current conditions. The Holy See remains close to them and asks the Lord to help them to safeguard the communion with their brothers and sisters in the faith, even in the face of those trials that each one will have to face.”

Therefore, the document clearly states that Bishops and priests can join the communist CPA with a free conscience. When they sign on, they need only specify by writing, or orally, that they want to remain faithful to the principles of Catholic teaching.

It is ambiguous about what those who do not sign should do. They can "choose" in conscience not to join, but other than a vague request for "the Lord to safeguard them," it offers no concrete support.

In effect, it hands to the wolves on a silver platter the Bishops and priests who are trying to remain faithful to Rome. "Continue your persecutions of the Underground Church," it implicitly tells the Chinese Communist Regime, "We won't interfere or create any commotion."

It comes as no surprise, then, that the new closing of Catholic churches in August under the pretext of protecting members from Covid-19 has met no resistance from the Vatican.

Posted September 4, 2020

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