CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

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China ratches up Sincisation

HONG KONG (UCAN): At a May 17 meeting of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), a five-year plan was agreed upon requiring Catholic dioceses to state in writing by the end of August how they will reduce foreign influences and adopt a more Chinese ideological and theological identity.
 
A 15-page planning document, obtained by UCAN, includes sections dealing with deepening the political, legal and social identity of Chinese Catholicism as well as promoting the faith. It also requires the development of Church management policies with “Chinese characteristics.” 
 
Dioceses are also being told to adopt architecture, painting and sacred music more in keeping with Chinese culture and traditions.
 
The word Sinicisation, which according to one dictionary definition means to modify by Chinese influence, is mentioned 72 times in the planning document.  
 
The document notes that the two main government organisations, the BCCC and the CCPA, are already promoting Sinicisation through seminars and other means.
 
However, it complains that many ordinary Catholics do not “accurately understand its implications and goals.”
 
It was therefore decided to ensure a systematic approach in keeping with the stated aim of the president, Xi Jinping, to continue education on “independence, autonomy, and self-management” of the Church.
 
This centres on Christians recognising their responsibility to “love the motherland” and accept the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the socialist system and the nation’s constitution.
 
Study and exchanges could help Catholics practice socialism with Chinese characteristics in Xi’s new era, the Sinicisation blueprint states.
 
The document also places emphasis on the constitution and work regulations of the CCPA as well as getting dioceses involved in educational activities, historical research and publishing. 
 
A research institute will bring together scholars from both inside and outside of the Church with the aim of compiling a history of the Church in China and establishing archives on Catholicism.
 
Traditional Chinese culture and philosophy are to be more widely taught in seminaries while the Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference are to take the lead in publishing a textbook dealing with Sinicisation, while there is to be a biannual forum on the subject.
 
The policy directive requires that educational efforts emphasise the rule-of-law and disseminate the new religious affairs regulations that came into effect in February of this year. 
 
Also on the drawing board is a booklet on liturgy highlighting “traditional Chinese features.”
 
Dioceses are expected to conduct seminars and symposiums on Sinicisation, including on the relationship between the Church’s hierarchy and democratic management. 
 
The planning document states that division of responsibilities between the CCPA, the Catholic Administration Commission and dioceses should be more clearly defined.
 
Meanwhile, the role of local Patriotic Associations and the Catholic Administration Commission in relation to the official registration of Church organisations, religious venues and colleges is to be strengthened.
 
The plan stresses that Sinicisation cannot be separated from effective organisational restructuring, with the CCPA and BCCC taking the lead nationally.
 
However, this would be done in coordination with Church authorities at the provincial, municipal and autonomous region levels, as well as parishes and seminaries.

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