With the world’s attention turned to the Vatican and the final hours of Pope John Paul II’s mission drawing to a close, the Communists in China have decided to note the Pope’s passing in their own special way. Chinese authorities have rounded up more Catholics who have refused to renounce their ties to the Pope and the Vatican and swear fealty to the Communist authority and their “approved” Catholic Church:
The Vatican said Saturday that Chinese authorities have carried out a new series of arrests of officials from that country’s non-government controlled Catholic Church.
The most recent arrest occurred Wednesday, when a priest was picked up in Hebei, the same diocese whose bishop was arrested Jan. 3.
The statement said security forces also detained the 86-year-old bishop of Wenzhou, Monsignor James Lin Xili, on March 20 and two days later a lay official of the diocese.
China refuses to allow Catholics, and Christians of other denominations, to practice their faith unless they do so in the state-approved manner. For Catholics, that means they have to disavow the Pope and accept the atheists in charge of the government as the ultimate eccesiastical authority for their religion. Four million Chinese attend these approved churches, but an estimated 12 million worship illegally, sometimes in private homes.
One might think that even the notoriously tone-deaf Chinese politburo might think twice about such a crackdown on Catholics while the most powerful and influential Pope in modern history captures the world’s attention at his passing. However, the Chinese have studiously ignored the Pope’s illness, censoring any mention of John Paul II or his illness from their state-run press.
While we’re praying for the Pope, let’s remember our brothers and sisters in Christ living under this oppression in China.