China: Clergy Must Embrace Chinese Communist Party
Christian devotees attend a mass at the South Cathedral in Beijing on September 22, 2018. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)
By Theodore Bunker | Friday, 19 February 2021 10:42 AM
China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs has released new rules ordering members of the clergy to embrace the Chinese Communist Party and actively promote the process of “Sinicisation,” as part of its ongoing crackdown on Islam and Christianity.
The “Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel,” were officially announced earlier this month and will take effect in May, codifying rules that have already been in place as supervisory guidelines, but will now have increased political power.
President Xi Jinping has worked since 2015 to bring these religions under his party’s control though “Sinicisation,” according to the South China Morning Post, which notes that for years the clergy has been discouraged from taking influence from overseas. Now, the new rules mandate that the clergy must promote ethnic unity, reject any foreign appointments, and go through a detailed registration process while serving only one congregation at a time.https://788a99703e94e84dbbaef8380e7596d9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
However, this agreement will not affect the 2018 agreement that China reached with the Vatican over the appointment of bishop candidates in China, according to Catholic affairs specialist Anthony Lam Sui-ki of Hong Kong Shue Yan University.
“All bishop appointments must receive final approval from the Pope before consecration can happen,” Lam told SCMP.
Loyola University Maryland political scientist Carsten Vala noted that this “political rationale is to further restrict religious activities and religious leaders,” following the trial of Protestant house church pastor Hao Zhiwei, who like many house church leaders used her private bank account to manage contributions from parishioners.
“This has led to state accusations that house church clergy are defrauding the followers … even though the state has left no other means for such congregations to manage finances when the house church congregations reject registration under the Three-Self authority,” Vala said.