House Church Talk - home churches in the news
david at housechurch.org
Sat Apr 10 20:08:20 EDT 2004
(I am behind on my private email. Hope to be caught up soon.)
Human rights Issues in China, including religious freedom, surfaced again
It is a mistake, btw, to believe that the Church is China is exclusively
underground or even Protestant. I would be very interested in seeing some
documents as to how the Chinese house churches regard the "registered
churches" and their "clergy."
Are there any modern Watchmen Nee's?
>From earlier this week:
China Arrests Another Catholic Bishop
By Patrick Goodenough
CNSNews.com Pacific Rim Bureau Chief
April 07, 2004
Pacific Rim Bureau - Chinese rights campaigners report the arrest of
another underground Catholic bishop, even as the U.S. struggles to win
support for a resolution critical of China at the annual United Nations
human rights session in Geneva. Security policemen arrived unexpectedly
Monday at Bishop Jia Zhi Guo's home in Zheng Ding, Hebei province, and
took him away without explanation, the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung
The organization, which monitors and campaigns against Chinese
persecution of Catholics, said it could not establish where he had been
taken. It said his arrest came a month after another underground bishop,
Wei Jingyi, was detained for more than a week in Heilongjiang province.
Wei's release came after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and
Vatican both demanded an explanation from the Chinese government.
The Roman Catholic Church has been banned in China since Beijing cut ties
with the Vatican in the 1950s. The communist government then established
an official "patriotic" denomination, which is called Catholic but is not
loyal to, or recognized by, the Pope. Anthony Lam, a researcher at the
Hong Kong-based Holy Spirit Study Center, said Wednesday Jia was about 69
years old, and was ordained in 1980. He had later been consecrated as a
bishop in secret.
Lam said it had become common practice for the Chinese authorities to
crackdown on church leaders ahead of Easter or other important Christian
occasions, to remove them from their flock.
He said the Catholic diocese in Hong Kong -- to which the study center is
attached -- closely monitored developments on the mainland, hopeful of
improvements. "It is difficult to change the government's old mentality
[towards the church]," he said.
In Geneva, the U.S. is seeking support from other members of the
53-nation U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) for a resolution it has
introduced focusing on China's rights record.
Kim Holmes, U.S. Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of International
Organization Affairs, told reporters it was an "uphill battle" winning
backing for the motion. In previous years, the U.S. has sponsored a China
resolution at the annual gathering in Geneva, only to have China's allies
stymie the effort, usually by using a procedural "no action" motion to
avoid having the U.S. resolution discussed.
China's official People's Daily said in a recent opinion piece that the
U.S. motion at Geneva was "doomed to fail," just as it had done on ten
previous occasions. The U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom said it deplored the response of China, which it said "has chosen
to see the resolution as a confrontation and not as a chance to
demonstrate its sincerity about implementing its human rights
obligations." Holmes said the U.S. was well aware of the history. "We
went into this with our eyes open but we felt nonetheless that it is
absolutely necessary that we take this stand." He said some members of
the UNHCR were themselves human rights abusers. Among the current
membership are nations widely criticized for violating human rights,
including Cuba, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.
U.S. officials have frequently accused abusers of getting onto the UNCHR
motivated primarily by the desire to avoid scrutiny.
This year's six-week UNCHR session ends on April 23.
After China cut ties with the Vatican, mainstream Catholicism was driven
Campaigners say many priests have been jailed for refusing to renounce
the authority of the Pope, but that despite the persecution, millions of
Catholics continue to worship in secret.
Non-Catholic Christians also face repression.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), all religious activity
in China has to take place within one of five official bodies falling
under the government's Religious Affairs Bureau.
They are the Patriotic Catholic Association, the Protestant Three-Self
Patriotic Movement, the Chinese Buddhist Association, the Chinese Islamic
Association and the Chinese Daoist Association.
"All unregistered religious activity is held to be illegal," says CSW.
"The registration policy has been particularly rigorously implemented
over the last few years, making it the main vehicle for state control and
oppression of religious activities. This has resulted in severe
violations of religious freedom and other core human rights." Activists
say China has in recent years also begun to classify harmless religious
groups as cults.
In a white paper released last week and entitled "Progress in China's
Human Rights Cause in 2003," the government's State Council held up as
evidence of freedom of religion the fact that the country had more than
100,000 venues for religious activities, 300,000 clergy, 3,000 national
and local religious organizations and 74 religious schools.
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