Catholics are upset about a directive from China’s communist government asking priests to “preach on patriotism” as a condition for reopening liturgical services, suspended earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ucanews.com reported the Catholic Patriotic Association and the Chinese Catholic educational administration committee of Zhejiang province jointly issued a notice May 29 on the resumption of liturgical activities.
“Religious places that meet the conditions of epidemic prevention will resume services from June 2,” it said while adding the patriotism requirement.
Father Liu of Hebei told ucanews.com it would be good to resume church activities, but the requirement on patriotism “is wrong. As members of the universal Catholic Church, we cannot accept and glorify what communists consider patriotic education.”
Jacob Chung, a Wenzhou parishioner, said the government’s move “has seriously interfered in the internal affairs of religion.”
A church observer in China who sought anonymity said the government was forcing religious leaders to add patriotism and Sinicization as part of religious teaching.
Amid the ongoing trade war with other countries and an economic slowdown at home, the Chinese Communist Party “is afraid of a counterrevolution. So they want people to hold on to patriotism,” he said.
He said the communists want to “suppress and transform” the church to sing the communist tune lest Christians criticize the regime.