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Jul 12

Speaking about the Three Self Patriotic Chinese Christian

Written by snow on Saturday, July 12th, 2008 at 5:26 pm
Filed under:Analysis, culture, q&a, religion | Tags:, ,
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In response to Marc (who wrote in #189 “What Does It Mean to Chinese”)

“However, the reason that I brought up house church vs. Three-Self church initially has a lot to do with nationalism. You see, Three-Self church was started by some nationalistic Chinese Christians in the early 1900’s (way before communist took over power in China). Hence they called themselves Three-Self (meaning self-governing, self teaching, self supporting). They hated Western Christians in China then. They teamed up with communist government later in the 1950’s to start persecuting other Chinese Christians who didn’t see things their way. That’s when house church Christians started to emerge. Anyway, the whole conflict started out with nationalism.”

I am glad that you put Christianity in China in historical perspectives, but your interpretion of important, complicated historical events is a bit oversimplified and biased. Still, you are right, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement was initiated by patriotic Chinese Christians and endorsed by the government, not “created” by the government as the PBS article claims to be (http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/china_705/history/china.html, a companion piece to Frontline/World Jesus in China).

That article appears to be a typically one-sided western interpretation of history of Christianity in China. For instance, when it says that the government “expelled missionaries and forbade interference from the Vatican,” it fails to mention Catholic missionaries’ unlawful activities interfering with the process leading to the founding of the PRC, the very reason for which they were expelled. As to how the government subjects Christians to “state monitoring and restrictions involving personnel, preaching topics and congregational composition,” the article again conveniently ignores UNDER WHAT SOCIO-POLITICAL and HISTORICAL CIRCUMSTANCE that such restrictions/ regulation were required, and WHAT WERE generally ALLOWED to ordinary Christians despite those restrictions.

I am no expert on the subject but according to the little I know from reading a couple of books on the subject (both Chinese and western authors), it WAS NOT until after the two Opium Wars in the latter part of the nineteenth century that Christianity began to grow and take root in China although the first missionaries had arrived in China in the seventh century. Why? It was largely due to the Unequal Treaties forced on the Qing government after its defeat — a Clause of Tolerance gave privileges to the churches run by the Christian missionaries from the victorious western nations.

One of these privileges granting western churches the rights and power to act ABOVE local authorities/ to be exempted from laws was a crucial factor causing violent civil/religious conflicts between Christians and non-believers and between different Christian factions/clans. Such conflicts were commonly called 教案风潮, which brought havoc to society (some were brutal massacres) in the late Qing and early Republic. Almost invariably there were social, cultural, economic and political root causes behind these ruptures and disturbances given how backward China was as a semi-feudal and semi-colonized county plus the plague of natural disasters at the late nineteenth century. The activities of the unequal treaty empowered western church undoubtedly aggravated the antagonism already deeply embedded in society which in part led to the outburst of famous/infamous Boxer Rebellion from 1899-1901 (for some the irrationality/xenophobia/anti-imperialist nationalism of the event was still like a specter hovering over modern china).

The significance and legitimacy of the Three Self as an indigenous Chinese Christian movement both before and after 1949 must be viewed within this historical context. I see nothing wrong with Chinese Christian being nationalistic, especially when China was encroached and bullied by foreign powers, and when Japan invaded China, and when PRC was just born and threatened by hostile western powers. Sun Zhongshan was a nationalistic Chinese Christian; contributions made by heroic Christians during the war against Japan and for a better China were acknowledged by both the CCP and GMD. And the Three Self was by no means a unique Chinese phenomenon. If we can appreciate the indigenous religious movements in other countries acting against the absolute power held by authorities such as Roma, why should we be so harsh on the Three Self Patriotic?

You worte that the Three Self Chinese Christian “hated Western Christians in China then.”  The person who initiated the Three Self was said to be a devoted believer brought up and educated in western missionary trainings and the mission he pursued was essentially in line with Christianity. It’s possible they hated certain things done by the western Christian or by westerners in the name of Christianity. I read somewhere, for instance, that the western missionaries/ Jesuits acted as interpreters and guides on the western gunboats during the Opium War; surely they were doing that for their own “national interests” rather than “saving” China. I wonder it they were called “patriotic” Christians/Catholics.

As far as I know, there are decent Three Self Patriotic Chinese Christians just as devoted to their Christian faith as Christians from some house churches, and they do not team up with government and persecute “other Chinese Christians who didn’t see things their way” all the time. And many of the social good they do and religious autonomy they achieve are through difficult negotiations with the government’s Minister of Religious Affairs, too. 

There is no denying that as a part of western culture and civilization the encroachment of Christianity brought benefits to China’s modernization (the building of missionary schools, hospitals, newspapers…), that people’s continuing worship of this religion may positively contribute to the building up of a civil society. There is also no denying that the Three Self Patriotic as a government endorsed religious organization at times is overly propagandist and the abuse of power could have caused the long time animosity and sporadically persecution of the house churches.

Nonetheless, I do not believe that history will render the function of the Three Self obsolete any time soon (as some liberal rightist scholars predicted, although I do believe in time the government will relax its control), not only because it has significantly facilitated in past three decades and is still facilitating the booming of Christianity in China, but also because (despite unfortunate incidents of wrongly persecution of the innocent) the form of governmental supervision has helped preventing possible social instability instigated by certain groups with various harmful religious, social, cultural or political agendas such as the “Lighting from the East”( http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,181681,00.html). I am in full agreement with Oli’s forceful argument on the conditions of religious freedom in China from a previous thread http://blog4china.org/2008/06/25/on-china-and-religion/).

Now even some western Christian missionaries learned good history lessons to show certain degree of respect to PRC’s religious laws and regulation when perusing their mission in China by Working with the Communists(http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/article_print.html?id=9922). And their experience has been a rewarding one.

Besides Jesus in China by PBS, China’s Leap of Faith (http://www.cnw.ca/fr/releases/archive/June2008/30/c9032.html), a two-part documentary for Vision TV made by the award-winning Toronto-based Cogent/Benger Productions, which “examines both the impact of this spiritual rebirth, and the government’s continued efforts to control religious faith,” will air on Tuesday July 22 and Wednesday July 23 at 9 p.m. and Midnight ET / 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. PT.

PS. I am no Marxist but I’d like to point out that a wonderful comment he made on the nature of religion has not been properly appreciated.

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people” (Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right).

It seems everyone quotes the “opium” part (for which Marx must have been resented by all religious people) without knowing that the rest of the paragraph, an extremely insightful and sympathetic view, even exists. And opium does not necessarily always have harmful effect: It depends on the condition of the person who uses it. But the pain/misery relief function of the opium is nonetheless temporary and it does not cure.


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16 Responses to “Speaking about the Three Self Patriotic Chinese Christian”

  1. Charles Liu Says:

    Glad you brought up the Eastern Light. When these “cult of Christianity” were banned and their leaders arrested and tried, everyone in US from the Congress to the Baptist Convention used them as examples of “persecution” and spat the most vile venom against China.

    But once the facts came out, everybody went silent (the Congressional hearing on this to date remain unamended):

    http://www.apologeticsindex.org/202-three-grades-of-servants

    The two “House Church” often mentioned by human rights folks are The Three Grades, and their rival The Eastern Light – banned by the Chinese government because they were killing each other in order to retain and compete for membership.

    These cults, thou in name are Christian, do not even believe in the Bible. For example The Eastern Light believe Jesus has returned to Earth – in the form of an invisible Chinese woman. The Three Grade’s Leader, Xu Shuangfu, actually named himself as the Messiah reborn.

    People need to look into the facts. Complete religious freedom does not exsits in US – just ask the Waco Davidians and the Texas fundamentalist Mormans. As to what kind of churches there are in China, I ran into one started in the 70’s by American teachers at the SIAS business school in Xinzheng, Henan:

    http://churchinchina.blogspot.com/

    I have one question for the Western missionaries who goes to China and encourage other Christians to break China’s law – what happened to the Bible’s “obey the law of the land”? China has laws on regulating religious prostylization *just like Israel*, but I don’t see Americans b!tch about God’s chosen people, just them subhumans where God’s law trumps everything in China as it seems.

  2. Albert Says:

    Interesting discussion.

    “”I read somewhere, for instance, that the western missionaries/ Jesuits acted as interpreters and guides on the western gunboats during the Opium War; surely they were doing that for their own “national interests” rather than “saving” China.””

    That’s the first time I’ve heard about that. But must we certainly believe they had their own national interests in mind? I can imagine some of them may have had other thoughts and reasons for wanting to be on the gunboats. Just trying to imagine.

  3. Daniel Says:

    Actually, quite a lot of Americans are bother by the laws regarding conversions anywhere, whether it’s in Asia, the Middle East or on Mars if need be. Some whole heartily believe in freedom to worship, making it a personal choice, while others are more interested if it concerns Christianity. Then there are those who don’t care but also making it a cause for personal choice.
    It’s going to be hard discussing in depth without discussing about the religion itself.

    I’m not sure if the Christians or other religious scholars in China are doing this as well. I read a blog a while back about an Israeli who had very close relationships with the Asian community in Israel (which coincided with his knowledge and love of the culture when he lived in Taiwan). He had a post where it mention meeting a group of Korean students studying religion (particularly Christianity) in Israel. He asked them about what drove them there instead of studying Christianity in Europe or America. They told him that they Christianity is still an imported religion. Even if there were generations of Christians, it’s still being taught and practice according to how the missionaries and thier counterparts in the West are like. They want to know the origin of it all and understand it deeper, so it require much more investigation into the heart which was in the Levant. Wanting to study the original hebrew meanings and understandings, pretty much wanting to know how it came to be.

    I could imagine that probably there were some missionaries and Jesuits at that time on the gunboats who might have other reasons other than the service during the Opium War. I know that the history of Jesuits in China has been farily decent, almost mutual, depending on the individual, and their actions in China at times went against other missionaries even the Vatican. However, I’m not quite sure how it came to be by the time of the Opium war. Considering that it was turbulent, some of them might have service the gunboats out of protection or possibly the missionaries had little choice but to comply, etc.

  4. fall Says:

    A senior person would be highly esteemed nowadays in mainland China if he has the educational background of a church sponsored university such as Saint John University before the CPC took power. It is only one of the examples of Chinese people’s positive recognition of the existence and activities of western Christian church in China. Probably it had truly happened that a certain clergyman used to play the role of a guide on their countrymen’s gunboat, but on the whole, most ordianry Chinese people feel no loathing or disgust when they talk about so called “western religious invasion”. As to the “Three self”, I do not know its history, but frankly speaking, to me it sounds to be a branch of the CPC’s Department of the United Front.

  5. Buxi Says:

    I think the strongly political role of various Christian churches can’t be ignored.

    In the West, religion has *mostly* withdrawn from politics… with the exception of social values (like abortion or gay rghts). Otherwise, churches are usually careful to stay out of specific criticism of political parties, or advocacy of candidates, etc. I believe that’s especially true in the United States, where any church that begins to involve itself in advocacy loses tax-free status. I have no idea how any of the churches feel about Guantanomo Bay, for example… I can guess how they feel, but no organized church has been involved in advocacy.

    But in “greater China”, that’s not the case. The Catholic Church (personified by Joseph Zen) in Hong Kong remains *very* political… not just on social issues, but on fundamental political issues. The same is true with the Presbyterian church in Taiwan, which has often taken on a very political role. All something to consider.

    All in all, thank to snow for the interesting history. I too had no idea “Three Self” had origins before the Communist Party. Today, the reason for why they need to exist is gradually disappering… no Christian country is actually talking about conquering foreign nations in the “name of God” these days.

    But let me remind everyone of what Wilhem Kaiser said before the eight-country alliance entered Beijing:

    But you can see from this what a culture not based on Christianity comes to. Every heathen culture, no matter how beautiful or august, will come to nought at the first catastrophe!

    …When you come upon the enemy, smite him. Pardon will not be given. Prisoners will not be taken. Whoever falls into your hands is forfeit. Once, a thousand years ago, the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves, one still potent in legend and tradition.[3] May you in this way make the name German remembered in China for a thousand years so that no Chinaman will ever again dare to even squint at a German.

  6. deltaeco Says:

    To mix Jesuit missionaries with gunboat policy and opium war is extremely incorrect. You should check your history books. I cannot imagine nothing more contrary to Matteo Riccie policies, than gunboats and Opium.

    “The work of evangelization, of making Christians, should be carried on both in Peking and in the provinces… following the methods of pacific penetration and cultural adaptation. Europeanism is to be shunned. Contact with Europeans, specifically with the Portuguese in Macau, should be reduced to a minimum. Strive to make good Christians rather than multitudes of indifferent Christians… Eventually when we have a goodly number of Christians, then perhaps it would not be impossible to present some memorial to the Emperor asking that the right of Christians to practice their religion be accorded, inasmuch as is not contrary to the laws of China. Our Lord will make known and discover to us little by little the appropriate means for bringing about in this matter His holy will.” Matteo Ricci.

    The order of Jesus was dissolved in 1773 opium war took place 1839. Jesuit influence in China had is peak between 16th and 17th century.

    I think you are putting too many things in the same bag.

  7. Hemulen Says:

    @deltaeco

    I’m glad someone else pointed out how hopelessly misinformed this blog post is, it’s embarrassing to read it and after some thought I gave up the idea of responding to it. I simply don’t understand why an intelligent person like Buxi would let it through. On every contested issue in Chinese history, there have been Christians in either camp. For every missionary who interpreted on an opium ship, there was another missionary working to help Chinese to shake their addiction.

  8. snow Says:

    “Not Excatly Jesus In China”

    I have postponed viewing the PBS documentary “Jesus in China” until now for fear that it would disappoint me. I have expected it to be one-sided, but the degree of its blunt one-sidedness and thin/shallow exploration of an extremely complicated situation still surprised me (Chicago Tribute, for which the author is a report, is well known for its long time China bashing stance).

    “Not Exactly Jesus in China” is an insightful and piercing critique of the documentary by a Shanghai based American writer who has taken on the long-ingrained, devastating misconceptions in western reporting on Christianity in China (http://shanghaiscrap.com/?p=850).

    The writer’s in-depth knowledge and well-balanced viewpoint on the subject are truly impressive. I only have one thing to add to this well-done critique: the documentary’s total absence of historical perspective. Much of the western misconception/bias on China reporting has resulted from this ignorance of historical perspective; for it would be unthinkable to be able to properly understand the issue as complicated as Christianity in China without looking into China’s history, the often critical roles played by certain socio-political, economical and cultural circumstances/factors which give justification or bring about changes to certain trends and related government policies.

    Some excerpts from this article particuarly relevant to this thread:

    “For nearly three decades, most foreign reporters have looked at China’s Christians and automatically assumed that the spiritual life of those who belong to churches licensed by the Chinese authorities are somehow less authentic than those who don’t. Buoyed by misleading labels like “underground” and “official” (as applied to China’s divided Christians), this view of Chinese Christianity has real power – nevermind the fact that it obscures the far more subtle reality of Chinese Christian life, especially as it exists among open communities. And, for that matter, it marginalizes the spiritual life of the tens of millions of Chinese Christians who choose to worship in churches registered with – but not run by – local governments. It also overlooks the real accomplishments that have arisen from open communities – including reformed liturgies, the re-establishment of Chinese religious education, and some of China’s most vibrant social service programs – not to mention the establishment of government-recognized institutions with an implicit interest in expanded religious freedom.

    Thus it’s a pity to see “Jesus in China” get lost in labels. Repeatedly, and interchangeably, Osnos refers to the “state church,” the “official church,” the “state-controlled church” and “the state controlled church known as the Three Self Patriotic Movement” without pausing to examine whether there is, in fact, a state church in China (much less a brief consideration of the centuries-long regulation of Christianity in China). To be sure there are government-established organizations that have oversight and registration powers over China’s churches (the Catholic Patriotic Association in the case of Catholics; the Three Self Patriotic Movement in the case of post-denominational Protestants), but they are independent and distinct from the churches themselves (I touched on this issue in “Keeping Faith” from the July/August 2007 issue of The Atlantic). That is to say: there is no state-church in China. This is a simple but important fact, recognized by Western religious leaders from the Pope, to the Archbishop of Canterbury (see the Pope’s 2007 Letter to China’s Catholics, and this press release from Canterbury), and it is the foundational justification for, say, the Pope’s current effort to reconcile China’s divided Catholic communities (as Rome has repeatedly stated: there is only one Church in China).

    Another important point overlooked or unknown to Osnos: laity and clergy who belong to respective churches may belong to the associations – but they are not required to do so, and haven’t been required to do so, in years. I personally know of priests and nuns who live and work in open church communities without patriotic memberships. And, to a person, they prefer to be called “open” or “registered” Christians to reflect their choice to worship in churches registered with the government. There is nothing state-established or official about them.”

    “…To tell the story of one, without accurately explaining the circumstances of the other, is to tell an incomplete story that distorts a more complicated reality. This is precisely the failure of “Jesus in China”….

  9. Charles Liu Says:

    Buxi, Deltaeco, Hemulen, any citations to back your claims?

    I did a quick google, and found mentioning of Jesuit missionary by Saint Francis Xavier in 1549 to Japan having some success, but subsquent missions to China was not successful (Xavier died in China, Ricci’s dismissal of Buddhism led to rejection of his message.)

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1252/is_n6_v123/ai_18150281

    Also, to discount the political implication of Christian mission seems unnecessarily disoucount of the church’s role in European states at the time. Xavier, for example, represented Rome as well as the Crown of Portugal as a political emissary.

    http://www.artsales.com/ARTistory/Xavier/Xavier_1.html

    The above citations show a connection between church/political mission and subsquent conquest and empire building. History of western colonial expansion is neither misinformed nor embarrassing, BTW.

  10. zuiweng Says:

    Portraying the Jesuit mission in China solely in terms of participating in some (real or imagined) imperialist plot to enslave the poor unwary Chinese (i.e. #9) is so wrong in so many ways, I don’t know where to begin…

    Perhaps here:

    – Try looking for sources beyond the first page of google/baidu/wikipedia searches. Why, you could go crazy and even consult a book or journal! On the Jesuit mission in China, there is an abundance of solid information, both in the form of historical sources as well as historiography. If you want an easy and very stimulating introduction to the subject, read Jonathan Spence’s “The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci” (Penguin). If you want a concise survey of Jesuit Studies go for Erik Zürcher’s article in Wilson, Ming / Cayley, John (ed.): Europe Studies China. Papers from an International Conference on The History of European Sinology.- London: Han-Shan Tang Books, 1995. Many affordable editions of (selections) of the letters of Jesuit missionaries exist. It goes without saying that there is also a wide selection of academic Chinese language material on the subject. None of it sinks to the level of putting Jesuit missionaries on Western warships. Neither does it reduce the narrative of Sino-western contacts of the period to a sordid and counter-factual tale of wily spies in monk’s clothing, trying to dupe the unwary Chinese.

    – A strong anti-imperialist stance (something I sympathize with) does not grant a dispensation of logical reasoning, based on solid facts, when engaging in an argument. “History of western colonial expansion is neither misinformed nor embarrassing, BTW.” (#9) Well, your’s certainly is both.

    – The subject of the “Three Self” organization is very interesting. I would be interested in more documentation (digital or dead-tree form)

  11. deltaeco Says:

    @charles liu

    You have a citation of the very same Matteo Ricci in my post.

    Eventual failure of Ricci policies were not due to the rejection of Buddishm, but rather to the rejection of the worship of ancestors. And attempt was made by the Jesuits to have it accepted by the Church but eventually rejected. The dismissal of the Order of Jesus (jesuits) shortly after sealed the doom of Ricci’s policies in China.

    Relation between western expansion and church expansion is not so direct as you may think. The church has its own aims and many times they were much at variance with the expansion of more close down to earthly “western” powers.
    You may accuse the church of proselytism, but accusing of direct support or accomplices of the worst exploitation schemes is much more difficult.

    You may accuse the Catholic church of blindness though (look for worship or ancestors in the article)
    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/China_and_the_Manchus/Chapter_IV

    You should also dig a little deeper in Google:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_las_casas
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Xavier
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silence_(novel)

    By the way, if you are just wondering I am agnostic
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic

  12. deltaeco Says:

    “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people” (Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right).

    Then how do you explain then than not a few of the rich and mighty were also among deep religious people?

    There is more to religion than that.

  13. Daniel Says:

    Indeed. There is much more to religion than that.

    Sometimes, when we quote people, it might be more useful and interesting to know a bit about the person making the statement, where he/she is coming from and the times and struggles at that point in history. Also to whom the statement is targeted at, or not.

    Regarding some of the rich and mighty who are deeply religious is going to take a while to investigate and discuss. I’ve heard from a local entrepenuer where I grew up that when one reaches a point in life of very great responsibility and status, it becomes very lonely. There’s really no one to talk about other than the spouse and possibly a very close friend, but even that is a wild card.

    Some quotes from former American presidents I read back in High school like Roosevelt and Wilson, maybe others mentioned how lonely they felt during their time in office. I think I also read a quote by the Phillipines president Arroyo in a magazine where she stated her first loyalties lie with God, then the country than her family. It might be like a figure of speech but possibly believable. I also think that these type of feelings go beyond politics and commerce, into almost any occupation’s higher positions.

  14. snow Says:

    Hemulen,

    “On every contested issue in Chinese history, there have been Christians in either camp. For every missionary who interpreted on an opium ship, there was another missionary working to help Chinese to shake their addiction.”

    Glad you pointed these out.
    My point that the Chinese Three Self Christians did not hate all Western Christians was precisely based on the knowledge that there were different kinds of western Christians in China. My information about the missionary interpreters was from an article written by a Canadian missionary who had worked with Chinese Christians first in Hong Kong then in China since the mid 1980s for more than a decade (I couldn’t recall both his name and the title of the article). In that article he used his own experience to show to the reader that Christianity had flourished in China but the West had been badly informed of this situation, which he thought was not fair to the many millions of mainland Chinese believers. Reflecting on history, he regretted that the majority missionaries then did benefit, without protest, from the privileges granted to western churches in China by the Unequal Treaty, and that there were even missionaries acting as interpreters/guides on the gunboat during the Opium War.

  15. perspectivehere Says:

    Adam Minter at Shanghai Scrap has written another interesting post about the movement towards reconciliation between underground and open church. It appears this is gradually happening in big and small ways all over China.

    See “The Underground Grotto and the Papal Letter” at http://shanghaiscrap.com/?p=883

    *********

    Minter also provides us with a useful resource, the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN at http://www.ucanews.com/), which he thinks provides “the best sources and reporting on China’s divided Catholics.”

    My curiousity piqued, I went to the UCAN site and found a whole section devoted to China-Vatican issues, which I link here:

    http://www.ucanews.com/category/special-topics/china-and-vatican/

    I found a recent article there that filled me with hope, and I post some excerpts below:

    Historic Rome Gathering Of Chinese Catholics Celebrates Feast Of ‘Our Lady Of Sheshan': http://www.ucanews.com/2008/05/26/historic-rome-gathering-of-chinese-catholics-celebrates-feast-of-our-lady-of-sheshan/

    “Chinese Catholics in Italy made history on May 24 when they celebrated the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians in Rome, coming together as a community from all over Italy for the first time….

    Five hundred of these Catholics — from both “open” and “underground” communities — answered their national coordinator’s call to celebrate the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome….

    Cardinal Dias presided and preached in Italian, but most readings and prayers, and all hymns were in Chinese.

    A red banner with gold writing on one side of the altar read, “The Love of Christ has brought us together….”

    While acknowledging “our brothers and sisters” in China “have suffered much over past decades,” he echoed Pope Benedict’s letter in calling on Chinese Catholics to forgive past offenses.

    Only in this way can we look to the future,” which is “full of hope,” he stated. “We must thank the Lord for the future of this Church, which is re-born in mainland China….”

    The cardinal returned to a theme in the pope’s letter when he remarked on the divided Church community in mainland China.

    “In heaven there will be no official or underground Catholics, because we will all be children of God. The pope wants this unity to be visible also on earth,” he said.

    The congregation applauded when he finished. The prayers of the faithful followed, including prayers for “all the bishops of China,” “all the Chinese people,” “those who have died in the earthquake” and “Chinese Catholics” living in Italy and the mainland.”

    Cardinal Dias concluded the celebration by leading the congregation in reciting the pope’s prayer for the Church in China. He also urged them to be united and help evangelize fellow Chinese in Italy and the mainland.”

    *************

    Based on this article at least, it seems clear that the Vatican now seeks unity among all Catholics in China, whether open or underground, regardless of whatever offenses each side may have given or suffered in the past.

    Reconciliation will take time, commitment, courage and forgiveness from both sides, but it appears to be happening.

  16. snow Says:

    Zuiweng,

    “Portraying the Jesuit mission in China solely in terms of participating in some (real or imagined) imperialist plot to enslave the poor unwary Chinese (i.e. #9) is so wrong in so many ways, I don’t know where to begin…”

    Certainly Christian mission in China cannot be portrayed solely in terms of participating in colonial expansion. But this does not mean that there’s no connection between the two things. Just a simple question: why did the victorious western powers bother to include privileges for their churches in China in the Unequal Treaties after China’s defeat in the Opium wars?

    deltaeco
    “To mix Jesuit missionaries with gunboat policy and opium war is extremely incorrect.”

    We don’t “mix” the two. It just so happened that at certain times in history the two did connect either directly or indirectly.

    Perspectiveshere:
    Thanks for your information. I am glad that finally there is a well balanced reporting to clarify the so called “state church” issue. The fact that the belated and long expected PBS production on Christianity in China was such a disappointment to many shows how slow the West is catching up with or simply out of touch with the reality in China.

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