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The synod and the Chinese youth

It has been one month since the historic provisional agreement between China and Vatican was signed. The diplomatic ties with ‘pastoral’ motives was met with mixed reactions from observers around the world. Both the Vatican and China have applauded the decision as historic and groundbreaking in spite of the skepticism and reproach raised by many within the Church. 
 
Rome should be content that for the first time since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, two bishops from mainland China wer participants in a Synod of Bishops in Rome. Although Bishop Guo Jincai and Bishop Yang Xiaoting returned to China ahead of the concluding of the synod, their presence for the first two weeks made possible the representation of all Chinese bishops in communion with the pope. 
 
Yet, not many have talked about how would this synod would affect the life of Catholic youth in China. Will they be free to follow and practice the faith of their choice? 
 
Except for the participation of these two bishops in the Synod of Bishops, the Church has a lot more to worry about. Although the details of the agreement are not yet fully known, the provisional agreement is about the appointment of bishops in China. Hence, it is premature to raise issues that are beyond the purview of the agreement. This deal, as the Vatican keeps insisting, is just a starter for a long-term plan to interact with Beijing leaders.
 
Some of the grave concerns of the Church in China include the fate of bishops and priests who are in detention especially Bishop James Su Zhimin, who was arrested in 1997 in Hebei province and would now be 86-years-old. Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung in an interview with Reuters lamented, “Whether he is in prison, or kept secret in some other place, or whether he has already died, nobody really knows.”
 
Moreover, reports coming from various provinces in China are increasingly disturbing. In a seminar held in Wuhan city, Hubei province, from October 8 to 11, less than a month after the Vatican-China deal was reached, a Hubei Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee official claimed that “Vatican’s attempt to interfere with our Catholic affairs has not changed.” 
 
Responding to the escalating tentsons even as the two Chinese bishops were participating in the ongoing synod, some netizens on social media exposed a blatant discrepancy in the Chinese approach to the agreement. The provincial governments of Henan and Xinjiang had earlier banned children under the age of 18 from attending Church services and prohibited religious education for minors and it is feared that it will be applied nationwide. Perhaps it is sheer coincidence, that the Synod of which concludes on October 28 is on the theme, Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment.
 
While the government wants to keep young people out of the education and practices, the Church promotes both. Now the curious question could be how the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China will respond to the recommendations of the synod. jose