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China recommits to molding religions

SYDNEY (CNS): Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, has reiterated the Communist Party’s commitment to make religion more culturally Chinese, underscoring what many see are problems with the provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops, signed in September between the Vatican and Beijing.
“We must fully implement the (Communist) Party’s fundamental policy on religious affairs and uphold the Sinicisation of religion in China,” Li said while delivering his annual work report at the China’s National People’s Congress in Beijing, on March 5.
His message was delivered as part of the annual two-session event that started on March 3 and is expected to run for up to 10 days. 
The push to Sinicise religions was introduced by the president, Xi Jinping, in 2015 and written into party orthodoxy in 2017. Experts see it as an attempt by the officially atheist Communist Party to bring religions under its absolute control.
In 2018, the party-controlled, governing bodies for Protestants, Catholics and Muslims in China all released detailed five-year plans on how to Sinicise their religions.
Catholics and Protestants have plans to retranslate the Bible, rewriting annotations to it. They also plan to integrate Chinese elements into services, liturgies, sacred music, clerical clothing and church buildings.
Beijing’s plan has seen Catholic and Protestant churches come under fire despite the agreement with the Vatican. 
In addition, under the Sinicisation, up to two million ethic Uighur Muslims have been placed in so-called re-education camps in the province of Xinjiang, according to human rights groups.
The meetings in Beijing began as Fernando Cardinal Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, travelled to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau from February 26 to March 6. He said the agreement needed improvement.
“The agreement is provisional only, and we will improve it in the future,” Cardinal Filoni said after celebrating Mass in Hong Kong on March 5.
Beijing has moved slowly on recognising about 30 unofficial bishops named by the Holy See but not recognised by the Communist Party Catholic organisations. So far, only one one such bishop has been acknowledged  by Beijing. 

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