Some Warn That Vatican-China Deal Is a ‘Betrayal’ to Millions of Christians

Christian human rights groups and some Catholic bishops are voicing their concerns with the Vatican’s recent decision to allow the Chinese government to select bishop candidates at a time when the communist regime is cracking down on religious freedom.

After the Vatican announced on Saturday that a provisional agreement was reached with the Chinese government in Beijing to end seven decades of conflict over who should appoint Catholic bishops in the communist nation, several Christians, Catholics and other rights activists have argued that the Vatican has seemingly legitimized China at a time when it has a long record of oppression against religious groups.

While certain details of the deal remain unknown, reports of the agreement indicate that Chinese officials will submit a candidate for bishop to the Vatican and the pope will have final say over the matter.

The agreement comes at a time in which the secular Chinese government has taken extreme measures to limit the religious freedom of Christians and other religious groups in the nation, whether it’s through demolishing hundreds of churches, urging Christians to sign papers to denounce their faith or even its campaign to tear down crosses and burn Bibles.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a United Nations-accredited persecution watchdog NGO, is among the human rights groups that have signaled its concerns about the deal.

“CSW is deeply concerned about the timing of this provisional agreement between the Chinese government and the Vatican,” CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said in a statement. “While we understand some of the motivations behind the Vatican’s effort toward an agreement, there are significant concerns about the implications for freedom of religion or belief in China.”

Rogers asserted that if the agreement is to have “real value,” the agreement itself must have freedom of religion or belief as one of its central components.

“We reiterate our call on the Chinese authorities to release all Catholics in China held in any form of detention, and all others detained in connection with their peaceful religious activities,” Rogers concluded.

China ranks as the 43rd worst country in the world when it comes to Christian Persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2018 World Watch List.

CSW warns that since China’s passing of the Regulations on Religious Affairs in February, authorities have demolished at least 20 churches and removed or destroyed at least 100 crosses. Additionally, there have been hundreds arrests just in the Henan province alone.

The organization notes that the severe crackdown on religious freedom is part of a larger campaign of “Sinicization,” through which the government is replacing religious symbols with communist party flags, slogans or pictures of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

On July 17,  Liangwang Catholic Church was demolished by authorities without any warning.

The Chinese government’s persecution has also affected Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong believers. Additionally, concerns have been raised that the Chinese government has imprisoned up to 1 million Uighur Muslims in labor camps.

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Source: Christian Post