There are many scandals taking place in the Catholic Church right now. One of those scandals is the proliferation of teachings directly in contradiction to the Catholic Faith. The situation in China is particularly grave because due to a series of compromises and arguments between the Chinese government and the Vatican, there is the official recognition of a state-backed “church” that in many ways contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church. This has caused a rift within the Chinese Church and among Chinese Catholics.
A recent statement from a new Chinese “Bishop” has now added to this “Sino-Schism”, as he has stated that obedience to the government is more important than to God or the Church.
Chinese Bishop John Fang Xingyao, who presides over the communist-sanctioned Catholic ecclesial association, said that love of country should supersede love of the Catholic Church.
“Love for the homeland must be greater than the love for the Church and the law of the country is above Canon law,” Bishop Fang told the Political Consultative Conference on Religions on November 26 in Beijing.
The conference was in line with President Xi Jinping’s call for the “sinicization” or adaptation of the Catholic Church to the requirements of China’s communist government, and thereby produce “a religious ideological system with Chinese characteristics in line with the demands of the times.” An accord reached between the Vatican and China last year has been criticized for supposedly accomplishing the above political goals for the Church set by President Xi.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics, underlined the parity of love of the Church and of country even while he called for unity among Catholics. He also called on the faithful to engage in respectful, constructive dialogue with the communists, while asking the government to allow religious freedom for the Catholic Church. Bishop Fang’s statement appears to contradict Benedict’s hopes for Chinese Catholics.
Bishop Fang (66) is bishop of Linyi in Shandong province and vice-president of the Council of Chinese Bishops. He is also a member of the national committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which is China’s legislative body. Besides leading the CCPA, he is vice-president of the Council of Chinese Bishops.
Using a similar line of reasoning, Bishop Peter Fang Jianping of Tangshan said last year that Catholics should support President Xi’s proposed sinicization of religion “because we, as citizens of the country, should first be a citizen and then have religion and beliefs.” (source)
Interestingly, from an American point of view, the Chinese assertion does not particularly oppose that which is supported in the US.
In the US, there is the concept of “freedom of religion”. However, “freedom of religion” necessitates that religion not play a role in government, but be subject to a higher authority, which is that of government as an unspoken regulator. This inadvertently creates a “third” religion, that of American secularism, which all accept as a part of living in society, and it is necessary because of one says that this is not the case, then one must say that there is a religion that is superior to the others, which brings up the question of which religion this could be, and the cycle begins again.
The fact is that society cannot exist without religion because religion is the philosophy around which a society rotates, just as a wheel turns upon an axis and without it, it has no directed motion. Many people might not care for or subscribe to that religion, but it has to exist otherwise there is no guide by which one can make decisions about how to live and function.
St. Juan de Ribera, the famous Catholic said who was involved in the final expulsion of the Muslims from spain in 1609, said that the most pernicious opinion a man could have would be to accept the idea that a multiplicity of religions could exist, and by that he means be accepted as “true” religions in a society, because it would either lead to the destruction of religion or a state of perpetual revolution, which is nothing other than chaos.
What the Chinese have done publicly here, and with the force of a gun, is to force the idea in society that a multiplicity of religions can exist, because ultimately there is only one religion that is “true”, which is the CCP. The US conducts herself no differently, except her form of pressure is by “soft” means, such as social pressure and ostracism, and is more effective overall. It is also a major reason why Christianity is dying in the US, because this issue has never been dealt with, and unless there are constant efforts made, the society tends towards the national religion of American secularism. In essence, the US is actually more insidious because what the Chinese do by force, the US does by manufacturing consent, and there is no more powerful form of compelling another to one’s will than by agreement.