Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Communists in the Market for Priests

BEIJING, July 22 (Reuters) - Catholic churches in Beijing will hire foreign priests to conduct masses to meet the demands of Games visitors from overseas, state media reported on Tuesday, citing church officials.
Masses held in French, Italian and German would be increased at the city's major Catholic churches, Xinhua said, citing the foreign affairs office of the Beijing Catholic Diocese.

"Although Chinese priests (can) speak some different languages, foreign priests (are) likely to preside over the masses in foreign languages during the Games," the agency quoted Beijing Catholic Diocese official Yu Shuqin as saying.

The China Christian Council would also print 100,000 copies of the Bible and New Testament with the Olympic logo on the cover. Some had already been shipped to the Olympic Village and churches in Beijing and other co-host cities, Xinhua said.

Beijing organisers said last year that an Olympic Village ban on "pamphlets and materials used for any religious or political activity or display" did not include personal copies of the Bible.
China, whose ruling Communist Party regards religious and other groups as potential threats to its power, demands its faithful attend state-sanctioned churches, and regularly detains pastors and priests.

Hong Kong media last week said prominent Beijing-based pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the China House Church Alliance, and his wife had been removed from the capital after a week of harassment to prevent him from meeting with foreigners.

China has about 40 million active Christians, with their numbers evenly divided between state-run and underground churches, according to expert estimates.(Reporter, Ian Ransom; Editor, Paul Tait)
There are estimated to be between 8 and 12 million Catholics in China, half of which are members of Catholic churches operating covertly. For those of you who have never heard of "state-run" churches in China - those are the permitted churches. There are Catholic churches that are run by the state in that they try to determine how, when and what is said. The government wishes to control these churches to the point of trying to have authority to even select bishops. The state-run Catholic churches in China do recognize the pope but diplomatic relations with the Vatican have not existed with the Chinese government since 1951. These things are obvious reasons for underground churches even though there is supposedly allowable practice of religions. Currently there are two Chinese priests imprisoned by the government since late May without formally being charged of any offense.

No comments: