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Wary of government hand in fund raising drive

HONG KONG (UCAN): Some people are expressing skepticism over what was billed as Relief Donations Day to support the outreach efforts carried out by Jinde Charities, the only Catholic charity in China that is a registered non-government organisation.

They say this is because the drive was supported by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, both of which are basically government-controlled bodies.

The officially registered dioceses in China appealed to their flocks to support the first such day, which was held on Palm Sunday, April 9.

The Relief Donations Day is the brainchild of the Patriotic Association and the bishops’ conference, but was run in conjunction with Jinde Charities.

A circular put out by the Patriotic Association and the bishops’ conference said that past relief efforts need to be improved upon and then went on to outline how this would be carried out.

Some people see Relief Donation Day as just an act of formality, which would only give Jinde a bad name. Jinde has close ties with Caritas in several countries.

Father Joseph, a priest of the official Church community, said that on the surface, the circular may be quite innocent, but its undertone continues to stress the leadership of all Church matters by the two bodies.

The circular points out that both of the organisations had made use of Jinde Charities to participate in mass relief efforts over the past 20 years, as other donation drives have only been ad hoc efforts.

“But these efforts are ad hoc appeals with limited results and inconvenient channels that need better collaboration and integration,” the circular says.

It adds that the Church in China should put more groundwork into its fund raising in order to be better prepared for any natural disasters that may happen in the future.

It also calls on all priests and laypeople across the country to participate in relief efforts.

To guarantee legality and transparency, the Patriotic Association and the bishops’ conference will publish a donation report in the Catholic media and Jinde Charities will provide tax-exempt receipts to individuals and enterprises.

Bishop Xiao Zejiang, from Guizhou, and Bishop Tang Yuange, from Chengdu, told Faith Press, which operates under the auspices of Jinde Charities, that they believe this type of organisation is needed.

They reminded people of the snowstorm that stranded many people and the earthquake in Wenzhuan, both of which occurred in their dioceses in 2008.

“We accepted help from Catholics in and outside China then. Now it should be our turn to help others,” Bishop Xiao said.

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