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Catholic World News

China plans new restrictions on religious groups

September 23, 2016

The Chinese government has proposed strict new rules to regulate the activities of religious organizations, emphasizing that they must "not be controlled by foreign forces."

Expanding existing controls on religious groups, the new rules would include restrictions on the construction of houses of worship and religious groups' access to the internet. The draft regulations also increase the fines that can be levied for "illegal religious activities."

Every recognized religious group "must adhere to the principle of independnece and self-government," the rules state. Religious organizations are required to promote Chinese patriotism, and missionaries admitted into the country are expected to embrace the Chinese perspective. Clerics who are not recognized by the government are forbidden to engage in "activity as religious professinals."

The new draft regulations—issued at a time when Vatican officials are reportedly in active negotiations with Beijing over the appointment and recognition of Catholic bishops—raise special concerns for Chinese Catholics. The rules appear to justify a tougher government policy toward the "underground" Catholic clerics who have not obtained the approval of the government-backed Patriotic Association.

 
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  • Posted by: feedback - Sep. 23, 2016 6:51 PM ET USA

    The communist idea that Catholic Church is an operative of "foreign forces" (The Vatican) was prominently used to justify persecution in the Soviet Block under Stalin. Let's offer a prayer for the lawmakers in China that they would see how it makes absolutely no sense.