Christian Martyrdom for Truth and Liberty in the People's Republic of China 1949-1996
Father Matthias Lu, Saint Thomas Aquinas Center, Moraga (CA)
This relevant work has been presented by the Author in the 5th. World Congress of Christian Philosophy, Aug. 20-25, 1996, in Lublin, Poland, and recently released to the media (Sept. 8, 99). Here, we transcribe the Introduction and some items of Part II.
1. My topic "Christian Martyrdom for Truth and Liberty in China" has been the center of my studies for the last 47 years, since 1949. The spiritual aspect of martyrdom connects itself with the Eighth Beatitude. This aspect touches the essence of the Christ's Kingship in the Messianic Kingdom. It has great significance as we struggle for justice and peace in this world. In relating the Kingdom of Christ in Heaven to secular kingdoms on Earth, it illustrates the three-way relationship between Church, State and Society. It points the way toward peace in the human world where the search for peace appears to be an endless, elusive process.
2. In this regard, the Catholic experience in China is extremely important for Political Philosophy and Theology as this millennium draws to an end. In order to be brief, I divided my report into two parts: (1) the spiritual values and (2) the historical events. The report's multi-disciplinary discourse is required by the principle of the inter-disciplinary harmony, based ultimately on the harmony between faith and reason, between grace and nature, and between the piety of contemplative prayer and the logic of intellectual analysis. For this approach, the language I use is at the same time philosophical, theological, mystical, biblical and liturgical. This report happily coincided with my Easter letter of this year that focuses on the Eighth Beatitude. The report is identical to the letter. To maintain the original power of the expression, allow me to read the Letter in the form in which it was written, as follows:
Part II: The Historical Events
20. Over the last 47 years, the stages of persecution in China reveal the Gospel's deep meaning in the episodes of Christ's life. The on-going persecution is like the best commentary on the Gospel. Although this limited letter cannot describe all stages, it will provide brief outlines of three major epoch-making events (1) the Three-Self-Reform Movement, (2) the Chinese Patriotic Association, (3) the current General Mobilization for Synthetic Control and United Ruling. These three events reveal progressive, concentrated attacks on the Papacy. Paradoxically, they show to the Chinese people the importance of the Papacy which the Government unrelentingly seeks to attack and destroy. "Will the gates of Hell ever prevail?" Let us consider this question as we review these events, as they appear in the historical phenomena.
The Three-Self-Reform Movement
21. The Three-Self-Reform Movement, the first event is said to extend from 1949 to 1957. More accurately, it started earlier with the People’s guerrilla war in rural China in the middle of the Agrarian Reform around 1945. This movement proposed three reforms: Self-government, Self-reliance, and Self-evangelization. It has intended to fully emancipate the Chinese Church from foreign control, calculating that the church, once detached from foreign support would vanish. While the history of this Movement is generally known, this letter selects only some outstanding episodes to show the growth of the Beatitudes. This Movement touched all the eight Beatitudes. It has caused the Catholics to experience each Beatitude that they remember from Jesus' lips, as recorded in Matthew: Blessed the poor, the meek, the weeping, the hungry and thirsty, the merciful, the pure, the peaceful, and the persecuted.
22. History can never forget that this Movement dramatically distinguished itself by parades in the streets to petition the violent expulsion of the Papal Internuncio, the Diplomatic Minister and Plenipotentiary Envoy of the Pope, in the person of Archbishop Antonio Riberi. The Archbishop's expulsion, rife with public insults on November 8, 1951, was against the wishes of the Holy See for him to stay. Unable to stay in China, the Archbishop did rightly in moving his residence from Nanking to Hong Kong and thence to Taipei in the Taiwan province (Formosa).
23. To understand the situation, it is important for the world to remember that the policy of the People's Government has focused its attacks on the Church's rock foundation to let the Church fall apart itself. It dismembers the Church, the Body of Christ, by separating the Church from its head. Then, it tries to force the Body to submit to a new head, a secular authority. The secular head seeks to integrate the Body into the State machinery under the United Front Department of the Government and the Party. It mobilizes and uses Catholics to rise up against Catholics, against their own Church; it uses them to unite the world for the cause of revolution in the name of national Independence, Liberty, and Patriotism.
24. The Internuncio's expulsion was accompanied by the expulsion of the missionaries, priests, nuns, and seminarians; confiscation of churches, church institutions and properties; imprisonment and punishment of the remaining clergy and lay leaders; and home exile of many Catholics to labor camps or prisons in remote provinces. Many Catholics lost their lives. The Legion of Mary was outlawed by military law. Its leaders were penalized. All these measures were administered under revolutionary laws in the People’s Courts or in the Civil and Military Law courts. The court proceedings were impromptu, assembled in place. Although they looked like Kangaroo courts by mob rule, they kept the records of each case. The result was that the government claimed that no Catholic was persecuted, only the "criminals" were punished by the will of the People. Many Catholics painfully lost their lives. Many were kept in prisons or labor camps for many years. Following the example of their bishops in prison or in exile, many Catholics accepted punishment with all its suffering. They refused to join the Three-Self-Movement. Subsequently, the Movement failed. However, the Government replaced it with a new Movement, the Movement of the Patriotic Association.
25. Catholics' responses to the persecution of this stage were inspired by Beatitudinal spirit. They found consolation in the spiritual life of penance and in the community prayers in homes or in other private places. In all the circumstances, they found the vitality to feel happy and to maintain themselves in a state of silence, patience, charity, peace and serenity. Consoling each other by silent sympathy, they answered well their interrogators about their religion. The Holy Spirit's virtues, gifts and fruits in the Beatitudes, were rich; they were visible in their faces and behavior. Their patience was edifying their neighbors and even the Communists. More details about their lives will present themselves in the following sections. The next stage distinguishes itself with the event of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association: the CCPA.
The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, 1957- 1992
26. The official founding date of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) in Peking was July 15, 1957. From 1953 to 1956, the foundations of the local Catholic Patriotic Societies in all provinces throughout China had prepared for it. In 1992, it was reformed and fortified by the Government campaign of the Synthetic Control. The Government founded the Patriotic Association to replace - not abolish - the Three-Self-Reform Movement to integrate it into the Association. So, it often used the loaded appellation to identify it as the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Three-Self-Reform Association and Movement.
27. The new name "Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association" (CCPA) was substituted for the old name "Chinese Catholic People’s Patriotic Association" (CCPPA). The difference between the two has great importance. It brings out the idea that a Catholic as Catholic is Patriotic, not just a Catholic People, as People is Patriotic. Because to be "patriotic" means "to be anti-imperialist and anti-papal" , the new name says that a Catholic to be a true Catholic must be "Anti-imperialistic and Anti-papal." Then, to convey its true intent, the correct language should re-write the name CCPA to be "Chinese Catholic Anti-papal Association" (CCAA). The CCPA, a euphemism for CCAA, adopted for common usage is a misnomer. In its real meaning and nature, it is anti-papal and anti-Catholic. It is an agency for obedience to the Party. It has nothing to do with the moral virtue of the patriotism.
28. The Anti-Papal and Anti-Christian intent is a fundamental principle that is explicitly incorporated into the statues of the Association. This principle obliges its members to reject the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff resolutely and completely. On the other hand, it subjects the faithful Roman Catholics to punishment by law as "unpatriotic, and counter-revolutionary in conspiring with the foreign enemy." This intent constitutes the essence of the Reformed Catholic Religion in China. It is making it essentially and intrinsically "anti-papal, and anti-Roman Catholic." This makes the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Church intrinsically invalid, fake and null. It is impossible to ignore this and still have a correct understanding of the Church's history in China.
29. Now, for a Roman Catholic to reject the Pope means to reject the promises of Christ who founded His Church on His chosen foundation, Peter and his successors; said the powers from the "gates of Hell" will not prevail against it; gave to Peter the keys of the Kingdom, and appointed him the shepherd of His flock. No power on earth can persuade any honest Catholic to reject Christ and His promises. If to reject the least of the Christ’s brethren is to reject Christ Himself, no one can reject the Pope without rejecting Christ. The question involves the credibility of Christ Himself, touching the essence of His Church.
30. Ethically, the idea of "rejection" is incompatible with the primary principle of Christian Faith. It also negates the Confucian principle of the Golden Mean, the principle of human solidarity and reciprocity. Human beings ought to love one another as brothers and sisters; they should reject no one. For these reasons, Catholics in China have bound themselves together to reject the immoral demand from the People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China. They will not join the CCPA, no matter what, because they cannot reject the Pope whom they love as the Holy Father and supreme shepherd of the Christ’s flock.
31. Therefore, the persecution has grown stronger. As said before, it progressed in three stages. In the first stage, generally, it denied freedom of information, communication, publication and travel to Catholics. It kept the Church in Silence and immobility. It placed all Catholics under multiple severe surveillance, sending many to prisons, labor camps, detention centers, and to study meetings for thought reform and brainwashing. It placed bishops, priests, religious and lay Catholic leaders under custody, in confinement, in home exile, or guided travel, etc. They were no longer free. Many could not escape torture and martyrdom.
32. The Cage Churches: - The confiscation of churches and church properties continued more extensively. It took most church properties for secular uses. It assigned only a few churches to the CCPA for liturgy as the Patriotic Churches. Their activities are still limited. "Freedom of religion" was renamed "freedom of belief and unbelief." The law allows the believers to keep their belief, but forbids them to propagate it, because propagation of faith interferes with the freedom of unbelief. The scheduling of liturgy in Latin was limited. Religious instruction was restricted and supervised. Teaching catechism to youths under 18 was forbidden. The Patriotic churches function like cages: they are used for public show and for watching over and controlling churchgoers. It has been more advantageous for the Party to control the Catholics by using the cage churches than by locking them up in prisons or labor camps. According to their policy, the Party and the Government were expecting that, in due time, the advancement of scientific enlightenment and industrial social development would liberate people from the yoke of religion and superstition. The appearance of some religious life was permitted at a minimal level, that is, until the Red Guards came in 1966. This period that lasted 10 years. was the period of the Great Cultural Revolution. It gave birth to the Red Guards with the Red Book of Mao’s sayings as their Bible. History remembers it as a great chaotic convulsion.
33. During these ten years, even the limited use of the cage churches by the CCPA was interrupted in most places. The Red Guards beat many bishops, priests and religious to death with sticks, destroyed the altars, the bell towers, the crucifixes, liturgical vessels, books, rosaries, etc. They dragged some elderly Catholics on the ground, hurting their backs, punishing them for their "conservative immobilism." Patriotic Catholics were not exempt from such punishment either. Loyal Roman Catholics and Chinese Patriotic Catholics were treated equally by the Red Guards.
34. This confirms the truth that the purpose of the CCPA was originally set up as an instrument to persecute and destroy the Church, however, by using softer methods than those of the Red Guards. The Government claims that it will protect Catholics if they agree to honor the CCPA, which has been given the legal status as the official Catholic Church in China. To deceive, the Party and the CCPA itself refuse to call the CCPA a church. In fact, it is more than a church. It is an "Anti-Church," a false Church set up to replace the true Church. No wonder that the true Catholics refuse to join it. They would rather die as martyrs for the true Church than to die as defeatists to an anti-Church. Many of them died under the Red Guards, mostly under the circumstances unknown to the public. History cannot forget that they are the Unknown Martyrs. There are many of them.
35. The Government stopped the Cultural Revolution with the liquidation of its sponsor, the Gang of Four, after the death of Chairman Mao. The new period of Democratic Reform and Opening to International Exchange under Deng began around 1975, creating a climate of relaxation for civilian life. Although it eased up on the restrictions of some religious activities, it did not formally abolish any of the anti-religious and anti-Catholic laws. During this social relaxation, both the Chinese Patriotic Churches under the CCPA and the Roman Catholic Churches in China countering the CCPA made tremendous progress in Church life. However, while the legal conditions have been very favorable to Chinese Patriotic Catholics, they remain much more unfavorable to the Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholic Church remains condemned as illegal, unofficial, clandestine, underground, and the like. On the other hand, the Chinese Patriotic Church is honored as legal, official, public, or qualified by other titles of honor. The Roman Catholics console themselves with the words Jesus gave in the Beatitudes.
36. The CCPA quickly opened more than 5000 new churches, no less than 15 seminaries and a couple hundred convents. If statistics are available, they are not reliable. Estimates show the following: increase of church-going parishioners - 2 million to 6 million; seminarians at 700 or more; nearly 1000 novices. Vatican newspapers estimated for the l990's that there are 6 million Chinese Patriotic Catholics and 7 million Roman Catholics. However, many visitors have estimated that there are 12 million Roman Catholics, a four-fold increase from 3 million in 1948. This latter figure was recently confirmed by the Chinese Government. Attendance in Patriotic Churches is much smaller, estimated at 6 or seven million. The total of the two accounts is estimated at 18 to 19 million. This is very small when compared to the total population of 1.2 billion.
37. Blaming the Gang of Four for all of the excesses, the Party sent agents to Catholic areas to apologize; they even enlarged the area of religious freedom to the Catholics who did not belong to the CCPA. They allowed opening of some gathering places for limited religious services. However, they didn't restore other freedoms. Again, by denying them the freedom to undertake other activities, they were penalizing them.
38. Thus, for 17 years (1975-1992), periods of tension alternated with periodic relaxation, depending on the methods and attitudes of the local officers administering the laws which in the letter and in the spirit remained very punitive toward the Catholics who in their conscience could not belong to the CCPA. The number of the "Prisoners of Conscience" continuously increased all over the country. By law, they have been obliged to alternate their residence from prison to labor camps or to other places where they would be kept under detention, custody or surveillance. Episodes of bloody conflict, physical and psychological torture, arrests and disappearance abound. The press has reported only a few of these episodes to the world; many remain unreported. There are many unknown martyrs. By popular opinion, every good Catholic living under these conditions is respected as a "living Martyr."
39. These conditions of persecution continue without stop.
47. Marian Pilgrimages often draw a great crowd of families to the traditional pilgrimage centers. There are many Marian Centers around the provinces throughout the country. The most outstanding are two: one in Shanghai devoted to our Lady of Sosei (She-shan,) Help of Christians; one in Tong-lu (Dong-lu near Paoting and Peking) which is dedicated to Our Lady of China, Queen of Peace, Mother of Grace, Help of Christians and Queen of the Chinese People in Heaven.
48. All Pilgrimage Centers are occupied by the Government and assigned to the Patriotic Anti-papal Clergy. But, without exception, the Catholics silently and spontaneously gather in some places near the Anti-papal Churches to make their devotions, without going into any of them. Not more than 20 percent of the Catholics worship in the Patriotic churches. Those people classify themselves among the Patriotic Christians by rejecting the church-governing authority of the Holy Father. They offer some prayers for the Pope, spiritually and liturgically, while they reject the ecclesiastical and sacramental communion of life with him and with the Universal Church. As their Church is false, their prayers cannot be true. Many common people do not know the difference. Nor do they pay attention to the question of the Papal Authority.
49. On the contrary, the good Catholics so much love the Papal Authority that they baptize or confirm their children and new converts with the name of "Peter" added to their first names, for example, "Peter-Joseph" , "Peter-Mary" , "Peter-Charles." They profess loudly and with big characters written on posters: "We love the Pope. He is our Holy Father. We obey the Pope. He is our Sovereign Pontiff. We support the Pope. He is the Vicar of Christ." Such characters are permanently posted on a wall in the gathering place of the Pilgrims in Tonglu. They pray to Saint Peter for the Pope and for the Church. Not permitted to have churches, they worship out doors. They often gather by the thousands and tens of thousands in Marian pilgrimage centers. This year in May, the government sent troops to stop them with punishment. Around May 24, the troops effaced the characters posted on the wall. The faithful keep those characters in their hearts with silent devotion to Mary.
50. Community Sharing: - Our Lady protects them and consoles them with the spiritual favors of the Beatitudes, and with the fruits of the sacraments. Her mercy draws the pilgrims to the pilgrimage centers where they say they experience the life of the first generation Christians in the Acts of the Apostles, 2, 42: all live a community life sharing all things in common. Being devoted to the Holy Family, they were of one heart and one mind, (Acts, 4, 32.) Deprived of churches and lodging facilities, they are willing to spend a few days living and worshipping in the open fields. They protect each other in the best way they can against the bad weather.
51. As Mary is merciful to them, they are merciful to each other. They enjoy the experience. No one complains. Some times, our Lady appears and silently converts some unbelievers. The truth of the Beatitude is lived in this fact that Blessed are the merciful. They obtain mercy. The gospel of the first century must be true, because it is experienced as true in the 20th century under the presence of Mary, the Queen of Martyrs. And, she is the Mother of Mercy. The word "Mercy" appears to be the best commentary on the Confucian saying of solidarity and reciprocity. Confucius observed that, as a rule, those who love their neighbors are loved by their neighbors. And, "you should not do to others what you would not want others to do to you." Vice versa, "If you like to live, let others live."
52. The growth of pilgrimages shows the increase in number and in piousness of Catholics in China who are loyal to Rome. The Marian centers are gathering places for the wandering families that float and drift like patches of duckweed on water. They gravitate spontaneously toward the traditional pilgrimage centers without being convened or orchestrated by organizers. They do not need a Hierarchy or any missionary. The Government forbids them to have any. As Christians reborn in spirit, they move in various directions like the wind, invisibly and freely. Christ said so to Nicodemus, (John 13, 7-15.) Confucius and his disciples also lived like wandering Jews. Moving around to teach Charity and Justice, they found an unteachable world that indulged in militarism and utilitarianism for power and wealth. Wanderlust compels the persecuted people to seek comfort at casual picnics and pilgrimages.
53. The Communist Party has blamed Catholic leaders for scheming in secrecy. But the leaders cannot bear any responsibility for it because, having been kept in prison or under surveillance, they find no way to organize pilgrimages. The pilgrims spontaneously follow the religious wanderlust derived from the Holy Spirit of Jesus and Mary dwelling in their hearts.
54. That wanderlust makes them feel hungry and thirsty for justice of God who fills them: "Blessed are the thirsty and hungry, for they have their fill." To a certain degree, paradoxically, the persecution has made China a land of the thirsty and hungry, whom God is busy to make happy by His Beatitude. He gives them the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of Mercy, to nourish and comfort them. Marian centers are the reunion places for the wandering and drifting families.
55. Funerals: - Besides the pilgrimages, funerals offer another occasion for drawing the families together. Very often, we see a funeral attended by six or seven hundred Catholics saying prayers and singing songs. Being in mourning, they are rarely interfered with by the adversaries of their religion. Their religious songs and prayers effectively teach religious and moral truths. They gain new converts too. Thus, they save the souls of the living by praying for the dead.
56. Confucius said that reverent care for the dead reminds you of your ancient ancestors and enriches the living with virtues. No wonder Christ evangelized, teaching that blessed are those who weep and mourn. They will be consoled. The true consolation comes from the Kingdom of God where the Martyrs enjoy the beatific presence of their Savior.
57. For the burial of certain notable priests and bishops martyred in 1990's, there have been between three and thirty thousand mourners attending funeral services. Sometimes, they made a novena of prayers before the final farewell ceremonies. They did this against the Government's prohibition. They gathered from far away regions, breaking or evading various types of roadblocks that the Government put on their way. They struggled patiently, silently and persistently. Most of them succeeded in reaching the funeral place.
58. Sometimes, during the funerals their prayers and songs to Heaven moved to tears the government agents themselves who tried but did not succeed in stopping them from coming to pray. The mourners were too many. They were so absorbed in prayers to God that they seemed unaware of the presence of the troublesome Civil Government agents. They appreciated the sympathy of bystanders and merchants selling things they need. They were enjoying their prayers for the dead as well as for the persecutors, as they were taught by Christ. "Blessed are the persecuted. Rejoice when you are persecuted. Pray for the persecutors." After the funeral, they dispersed with thanksgiving in their hearts. Merging with the common people, they become undetectable. Occasionally telling about their experiences wherever they went, they have converted many to God privately. God the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, is the source of their consolation.
The Final Stage of Persecution
72. This final stage of persecution is characterized spiritually by the final prayer of Christ on the Cross: "Eli, Eli, Lema sabachthani!" In political history, we may roughly take 1992 as the beginning of this stage. Chinese legal documents qualify it by the Method of Synthetic Control. It is a network of Joint Work Teams covering all the dimensions of the United Front Operation in all parts of China and of the World, in dealing with religions and specifically with the Roman Catholic Church. Synthetic Control looks like an Emergency Law of General Mobilization. All the departments of the Government, all Party organizations, all civilian associations, and industrial units are called to action. All are told to be united and synthesized from the high level of the central government through the provincial and county levels to the bottom of the rural villages. All are coordinated to do the final settlement with the Roman Catholic Church in China now, and elsewhere in the world when the time comes. Right now, the intensive application of this method is going on all over. The method can be analyzed in its organization of Joint Work Teams and in the updated Religious Legal system. Both the Work Teams and the Legal System cause deep anguishing pain in the hearts of the persecuted.
73. Joint Work Teams, about 30 members each, are composed of agents selected from Public Order, Public Security, Army, Militia, Party Cadres and Religious Affairs Bureaus of the United Front. They are sent to occupy each village or each territory, divide it into sections, with a few families in each. They investigate, supervise, reeducate, brainwash, register persons, groups and places, control their religious activities, and selectively penalize them as illegal or anti-revolutionary. Using similar methods, they extend their arm abroad into various countries to recruit and enroll sympathizers into Friendship associations to promote Patriotic religious policies against the central authority of the Roman Catholic Church, considered imperialist and anti-revolutionary. For China, it is a foreign enemy. This point has been central and fundamental to the Chinese Government's religious policies and laws since the beginning of the republic in 1949. Through these years they repeatedly emphasized the anti-religious laws and policies. Bishop Peter Joseph Fan, 1907-1992, was martyred under these laws.
74. For this reason, the Church has been persecuted. As said earlier, the Three-Self-Reform Movement expelled the missionaries, confiscated churches, imprisoned Bishops, priests, and lay leaders, or sent them to the labor camps, (1950-1957). The Chinese Patriotic Association established the Anti-papal Church, (1957-and on). It is serving the Government's anti-papal policy by confusing the Catholic population through fake churches. To consolidate this work they opened many churches. They also opened many seminaries and novitiates to train the priests and nuns to serve these Patriotic churches. They created bishops by self-election and self-consecration to abandon the Hierarchy, the Papacy, and the Canon Law of the Church. These bishops were placed to usurp the Episcopal sees by overthrowing the original legitimate bishops now living in prison, in labor camps, in exile, dead or martyred.
75. In the eyes of the common sense people, usurpation makes the Patriotic bishops juridically illicit, sacramentally invalid and socially dishonorable. These bishops are not freely elected by the Church. They are appointed by an atheistic government. Contrary to the commandments of Christ and the Apostolic Church, the whole process is unjustifiable. It is both illicit and invalid. Usurpation is not a valid succession. To promote the National Patriotic Church, the Law ordered the Roman Catholic bishops, priests, and lay leaders to be treated as illegal and anti-revolutionary for the sole reason that they wish to remain loyal to the Roman Catholic Church and to the Pope. All of them were arrested. Many spent 20 or 30 years in prison, in labor camps or in exile. Many of them lost their lives. When some of them were released, they were sent home or elsewhere to live like private individuals under surveillance, without liberty or facility to serve in their religious ministries. For having contacts with Catholics inside the country and with the Pope at the Vatican they are punished as conspirators against the state. Again and again, they are put back in prison or labor camps.
76. Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic Faith has succeeded to grow and spread in new ways, expanding through personal contacts and family visits. The wave-like movement of duckweed individuals, groups and families floating around have kept the blood stream of religious life circulating and expanding. The danger of being arrested exists everywhere, causing painful anguish to burn in the hearts of the faithful.. They compel the persecuted to intensify prayer life and appreciate the presence of Christ with the gifts of consolation in faith and hope.
77. The Government through International Friendship networks has succeeded to obtain assistance from those abroad to strengthen the National Patriotic Churches. Financially, they received considerable amounts of money and gifts from Catholic and Christian Charity organizations from Europe and America. Educationally, through student exchanges, they placed 40 or 50 Patriotic seminarians in the Catholic Seminaries in America, South-East Asia, and Europe, some in Italy at Castel Gandolfo near the summer palace of the Pope. After the training, they were called back to China to be ordained priests by their own Patriotic bishops. This shows that they were told not to accept the ordinations if conferred by Roman Catholic bishops outside China, certainly not by the Pope at the Vatican. Canonically, the Patriotic ordinations in China are illicit and sacrilegious. The sacrilegious ordinations cause deep anguish in the any believer's heart. More so, when these sacrileges are made possible through cooperation of Catholic institutions in the free world. By doing this, the Mother Church is made to appear as aiding the persecutors. This appearance pierces the hearts of her faithful daughters and sons under persecution.
78. Worse still, ever since 1992, the Government through the media made it public that some time ago the Holy Father extended recognition to 20 or 30 Patriotic bishops on their request, granting them faculties to govern the Dioceses as legitimate bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. The beneficiaries of this public recognition, the Patriotics, ostentatiously paraded the document through the streets to make the people believe that the Pope agreed to give recognition to the National Patriotic Church, as such and as a whole. Namely, they wanted it to be believed that the Pope recognized the emancipation and independence of the Patriotic Church from Rome and the Patriotic Church could govern its own affairs according to Chinese Law. This Law includes the uncanonical Constitution of the Patriotic Bishops Conference and the Statues of the Patriotic Association. Thus, the Holy See was presented as moving toward normalizing diplomatic relations with China, according to the conditions the Patriotics were proposing and the Government was demanding.
79. The fact remains that the normalization of relations never happened. But, it is true that the Pope did recognize a number of the Patriotic Bishops as "legitimate." But the Roman Catholic Faithful in China did not accept them. The people are divided as a result. Some Superiors in China estimate that not more than one third of the parishioners have accepted the Patriotic bishops. Some history professors in Peking University observed that the two third majority believe that the actions of the Pope were administrative and disciplinary mismanagement along with tactical miscalculation. This hurt their feeling so much that they felt as if a mother with a sword pierced the hearts of her own daughters and sons. Thus, she made them to relive the anguish of Jesus’prayer: "Eli, Eli, Lema sabachthani!" in union with His sorrowful Mother in her transfixed bleeding Heart.
80. However, it is important to note that Jesus' prayer is a groaning of love, neither a protest, nor complaint, nor disobedience, nor revolt, nor the like. It just expresses the deep feeling of anguish in the tragic moment of a painful contradiction in the dialogue of love, like between Jesus and His Father in Heaven. Some professors in Peking observed that the papal recognition is usually granted with conditions. It nullifies itself automatically if the conditions are not met.
81. Evidently, the Law of the Church cannot justify the recognition of the Patriotic Bishops nor of the Patriotic Church. The nature of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and Church is incompatible with the nature of the Roman Catholic Church. The nature of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and Church is determined by the Chinese Religious Legal System. This system has been constant and consistent. It requires emancipation of the Chinese Church from the Roman Catholic Church government of the Pope, as a foreign power. It demands the Chinese Church to be self-made and self-governed according to the Chinese Socialist Religious Legal System. And, in all things, the Church must follow the leadership of the Communist Party. Within this system, there is only one Center of Power. It has no room for the Power of a Sovereign Pontiff to exist.
82. In the Socialist government theory according to the Chinese Communist interpretation, the ruling authority of the Party is the only power center and cannot allow any other power center to exist. The authority comes from the Socialist Democracy through class struggle. It is immanent in the Democracy itself; never can it come from outside. It cannot come from God or from Christ, much less from the Papacy and its Code of Canon Law. Applying this System to the Patriotic Church, it makes the Church to be entirely a product of the Communist Socialist Democracy . The laws of this church are derived from the government's legal system. They are not derivable from the Divine source. This immanentism of authority inside the Socialist System must exclude the transcendental God and His Church.
83. The Feuerbach motto reigns supreme in this System: "It is not God who created man, but is man who created God." Chinese Communist theoreticians kept repeating this for all these years. If the name of God can be used for cultural and political reasons, it can mean only the personification of the highest ideals of a given culture. It is a product of the human mind conditioned by a historical cultural context. If it is not integrated into the revolution, it becomes a superstition alienating the human mind from the goals of revolution. The goals of revolution are not determined by God or by the Pope, but they are determined by the impetus of a given culture. In China, the Communist legislators see the cultural stampede in the Great Socialist Cultural Revolution with Chinese characteristics. From all this it follows that the Chinese Socialist Legal System is atheistic, so also is the Nature of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and Church. Their God is the product of this Revolutionary Culture. Existing in the human mind, the immanent God is an ideal and has no objective existence in reality.
84. Any way, the Patriotic Church with her god is made to serve the Communist Socialist System. It is forbidden by law to interfere in education, culture, economy, science, technology and national policy . The role of the Church and her god is limited to serve in religious service as prescribed by the government and to lead the believers to support the government programs for progress regardless whether it is for or against Catholic moral teaching. Freedom of religion is made to mean a freedom to support the national secular policy. It can no longer be a freedom to serve God. Freedom of belief is restrained by the freedom of unbelief. Teaching the faith to other adults and to children before adult age is an interference to their freedom of unbelief. So, the Patriotic Church is not really free to preach the Gospel but free only to observe and promote the national policy.
85. The 1992 National Catholic People’sCongress crystallized all the existing religious laws in the new constitution of the Bishops Conference, the Patriotic Association, and the Committee of the Catholic Religious Affairs. The fundamental principles concentrate on independence from foreign control. The Chinese Church must be self-made, self-governed and committed to follow the Party's leadership in its goals. The Church depends on the People’s Congress which belongs to the frame work of the National Political Consultative Conference which is a creature of the United Front. Such a national church is an integral part of the secular government. It cannot be a part of the Body of Christ which subsists in the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. It must fight the Apostolic Church to the finish. The secular and the sacred do not share the ruling power. The sacred must be used as an instrument by the secular to serve secular purposes.
86. Given the power of the Government to enforce its laws concerning religion, humanly speaking, no religion can survive for long. The Roman Catholic Church is given the final choice either to abide by the law or to disappear. Both alternatives form a dilemma leading to the same end: to be no more. This final agonizing struggle has been taking place over the last half century. The Organized Canonical Church in China is indeed made to disappear. But, while remaining not fully organized, the Roman Catholic Church has managed to maintain the thin line of the Canonical succession, continuity and legitimacy with bishops and priests comparable in number to the Patriotic ones. They are periodically ordained. The Church is flourishing in the form of floating duckweed patches of wandering Christians. Their number has increased two to four times from 3,750,000 in 1948. This resulted from Divine Providence guiding human intelligence, faith and perseverance, as promised by Christ.
87. Presently, (May 20, l996), the new anti-religious regulations are being effectively enforced all over China by the Joint Work Teams using the method of the Synthetic Control. We often read in the press about the registration of the religious gathering places. Many of these places were pillaged, burned or destroyed. Their priests and leaders have been arrested or forced to flee. It is too much to tell here. Just to give two places as examples. One bishop in an important city used to say Mass in his private dwelling place with a small number of people coming to attend. Recently, this bishop was fined $1000 and each attendant $300 for one Mass privately celebrated. This was done according to the religious regulation promulgated by the City. It stipulates a fine of $50 to $500 for each parishioner, and $1000 to $50,000 for the celebrant or organizer of each event.
88. There is a famous Center of Marian Pilgrimages. This center draws 20 to 30 thousand pilgrims in May. As always, these pilgrimages are forbidden by law. They were penalized this year by new ordinances. The Government sent 3000 to 7000 soldiers to besiege the village where the Center is located. They encircled the village of 8000 with seven circles of soldiers. Using 30 armored cars, they toured around the village. Pilgrims unknowingly coming near were stopped; they were penalized with a fine of $300 to $500 each. Then they were turned back. A couple of French pilgrims from France were also turned away. The bishops were arrested; some others managed to flee and hide. 0ver 100 priests had to abandon their religious gathering places, flee and hide. If they didn't flee, they have already been arrested.
89. The Major Seminary with about 100 seminarians was disbanded. So also was a nuns' novitiate that had 30 or 40 novices. For many years, the Seminary and the novitiate had been operating quietly in private homes until they were discovered by the Work Teams. Small school children are forced to sign papers renouncing their religion. Many of them refuse to sign and run away to hide. A Senior Home in a private house was established by a bishop with charitable donations from America. Now, the Mother Superior of the Home has been arrested and taken away. The fate of the Home is unknown.
90. Similar episodes are occurring almost everywhere in China. To avoid public attention, the Government Work Teams use tactics of "quick arrest-quick release," periodic "restriction-relaxation," rhythmic "tension-detente" or cover up arrests with "Friendly invitations for dialogue or discussion, or even for tourist sightseeing." Consequently, the journalists can hardly find anything, even if they are allowed to come to the territory. The lack of public information and communication is one form of the most cruel oppression and persecution where the families and the churches are concerned. The Church needs communication for social and spiritual life. Normal channels of information and communication are denied to the Churches and are condemned as conspiracy. The world news media cannot gain access to the religious gathering places for collecting news to report. They cannot even find out where and what action is taking place.
91. In order to coordinate the operation of the Joint Work Teams, a command post is stationed in the central village of selected areas. The Commander recently ordered the villages of those areas to be frozen. This means that no villager can travel out of the village without a permit. Unless a Catholic signs a paper renouncing his religion, that person Catholic cannot travel outside. There are some villages that have special restrictions so no Catholic is permitted to travel outside at all. Closed in geographically, they are confined in a village which, in effect, serves as a large prison. Anyone running out of it can be punished by death as a fugitive. The purpose of freezing is to prevent formation of groups for the customary pilgrimages in the month of May. If this is the only purpose, the freezing order might be lifted and the soldiers would be withdrawn some time in June, as people speculate.
92. They hope that the situation will not grow worse. If, on the contrary, it should last too long, the Catholics would starve within the confinement of the frozen villages because their farms are outside of the village. This would endanger the lives of 20 thousand or more villagers. The Joint Work Teams will remain, however, to enforce the anti-Catholic regulations. It is unknown what new actions they will take. The Catholics are living in fear and are perplexed because they are classified as illegal. They have been suffering in this anguishing state for many years. Currently, they hear the TV’s, Radio’s and loudspeakers yelling at them: "The illegalities must be punished!"
93. The above sample cases illustrate some aspects of the new wave of religious persecution. It is universal and implacable; it has no end. It is continuously getting worse. What is the reason for it? The deep fundamental reason is that old law of tragedy in human history, which through the course of events, unnecessarily led Communism and Catholicism to lock themselves up in mutual injury by violence instead of mutual refinement by dialectics and logic. It has turned the contradiction of dialogical partners into a dogfight of senseless murderers. Both the Gospel in the beginning and the Vatican II Movement in the end of the present Christian history purified and elevated Catholics into a platform of working for peace with peace in justice and truth through the logic of dialectics - dialogue for renewal and reconciliation with truth and justice. But, Communism with the Chinese characteristics is still relying on the power of the gun to punish others as the anti-revolutionaries whom they find by illusion in every Roman Catholic. They cannot believe that the Catholics of today can be different from the Catholics of yesterday.
94. Therefore, it is unable to wake up from the nightmare of All People War for permanent revolution to open its eyes to see the sun light of the Human Reason. The light is shining in leading the advancement of dialectics for permanent readjustment seeking progress in peace, toward happiness in all beatitudes. Following Marx, the Communists generally have kept professing their faith in dialectics, but they remain addicted to violent behavior in practice, ever since Lenin and Stalin. They mistake dialectics of violence for dialectics of logic. Therefore, the cause of the persecution in China is the oblivion of the dialectics. Some political observers say that the Chinese Communists are Red Army revolutionaries and that they are not inclined to exercise the logic of dialectics.
98. It is for the fidelity to the truth of the Church and of the Holy See that the Catholics in China have been unceasingly suffering persecution for these many years. The persecution seems to be growing worse and worse. At the same time, it is also undeniable that the fidelity is growing many times stronger in quality of virtues and in quantity of new believers. While they suffer painfully, the Faithful rejoice happily with the spirit of the Beatitudes. This may be the guarantee that Martyrdom in Christ knows no defeat, because it opens up the gate to the Kingdom where the Sovereignty of Truth reigns in eternal glory.
Matthias Lu, Ph.D., S.Th. L., Th.D., Director, CEO., Saint Thomas Aquinas Center, P.O.Box 3014, Saint Mary’s College, Moraga, CA 94575-3014, U.S.A.
Tel: 925-376-9398 Fax: 925-376-3862 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Submission to the media, Sept. 8, 99.
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