CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

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Bishop of Guangzhou silent on religious repression at Taiwan talk

HONG KONG (UCAN): A talk given by Bishop Joseph Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou, at the ninth Fu Jen Academia Catholica International Conference was flagged for not reflecting the truth about religious repression on the mainland.
 
Bishop Gan spoke about contemporary Catholic theological education and cultural construction in China at the conference, hosted by Taiwan Fu Jen Catholic University from May 4 to 5.
 
In the discussion session, Precious Blood Sister Beatrice Leung Kit-fun, a Sino-Vatican relations specialist at Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages of Kaoshing, asked the bishop how the Church responded to the Sinisication of religion driven by China’s president, Xi Jinping.
 
Bishop Gan replied that the policy impacted all five major religions, not just the Catholic Church, adding that religious Sinicisation was not exactly the same as the spirit of inculturation advocated by the Second Vatican Council and would not violate Catholic doctrines.
 
The bishop, who is recognised by the Vatican and China, was the first senior Chinese cleric to come to Taiwan since the illicitly ordained Bishop Joseph Liu Xinhong of Anhui, privately visited church communities in 2015. 
 
Sister Leung explained that the bishop’s visit to Taiwan was authorised and arranged by the Chinese Communist Party.
 
Bishop Gan told the conference that the quality of Catholic academic activities on the mainland had been gradually improving but that most people had a sociology background.
 
The bishop said that Chinese society had always misunderstood the Church. In the early days, the academic community had been constrained by ideology to distort Christianity, while in recent years Christmas had been boycotted and scholars had opposed the construction of a church in Confucius’ hometown Qufu.
 
He believed Church members had avoided social and public issues, leading many to believe that “the Church fails to care about society and society cannot understand the Church.”
 
Bishop Gan said the Church should show more concern for social affairs so that Catholic culture can enter the public space of Chinese society through theological studies and social services.
 
Sister Leung later observed that the bishop’s talk, while positive in tone, failed to reflect the Communist Party’s tightened religious policy as no mention was made of the forced removal of crosses from churches in China, or minors being prohibited from attending Mass or Catholic kindergartens being seized.
 
However, she remarked that in light of recent tensions between China and the United States, Beijing hoped that Church members in Taiwan would stand on the side of China.
 
John Cardinal Tong Hon, the former bishop of Hong Kong, and Archbishop Joseph Ti-kang, the former bishop of Taipei, also attended the conference. 

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