In defiance of the Vatican’s objections, China’s government run “Patriotic” Catholic Church recently held a three-day meeting to select new leaders in Beijing.
The gathering of “Catholic Church” leaders clearly has no standing with the authentic Catholic Church and has only further increased the strains between the Vatican and the Chinese government. These strains were further exacerbated with reports that the Chinese police were searching for bishops across China to force them to attend the meeting.
In one frightful scene, members of the Chinese police force attempted to drag away Bishop Feng Xianmao from a priest’s funeral Mass. More than 30 priests, religious sisters and laity surrounded the police car carrying him away and a six-hour standoff ensued. Eventually, more police were called to support the kidnapping of the bishop and he was forced to go along with them. News reports from across China suggested that bishops were being brought to the meeting against their will while others fled into hiding. This latest attack upon the church comes just weeks after the illicit ordination of a new bishop in Hebei province without Vatican approval. Many authentic Roman Catholic bishops were also forced to attend the ceremony.
The Communist government that rules China has acted in direct defiance of the Vatican’s objections and protests by the authentic hierarchy in China. The threats and intimidation by Chinese authorities against Catholic bishops loyal to the authentic Roman Catholic Church is as frightening as it is outrageous. The Chinese government has demonstrated the worst kind of thuggery and brutality in rounding up bishops to attend an illicit church meeting.
While attacks upon the church by totalitarian governments have been commonplace in history and continue to this day in many parts of the world, this disgraceful and shameful episode in China deserves only clear condemnation and a harsh denunciation by world leaders. Religious freedom is continually under attack across the globe and must be countered by both church and secular leaders from the world over. We join all those who support the free exercise of religion and religious liberty in condemning the Chinese government for their brutal crackdown upon the Catholic bishops of China. We also renew our support and prayers for the authentic Chinese Catholic Church in this time of persecution. The time has come for world leaders to promote religious freedom and liberty in China and end the thuggery and oppression of the totalitarian regime in China.