A private meeting between Chinese bishops and religious leaders with members of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong clearly showed the intentions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to influence the Hong Kong diocese to modify the religion and install one with “Chinese characteristics,” controlled by the regime, in the style of mainland China.
The meeting, which took place on Oct. 31 and was never publicized until now, is Beijing’s most significant attempt “to influence the Hong Kong diocese,” Reuters reported, to ultimately, as is the case in China, undermine religious freedom.
Meeting attendees shared that CCP officials emphasized the need for greater ‘Sinicization’ of the faith. This Chinese policy is a ploy by the regime to sell Catholics on the Communist Party’s goals.
It involves closely linking religions with Chinese culture and aligns with the Catholic policy of “inculturation,” the intentional incorporation of local culture with faith.
CCP leader Xi Jinping stated in early December 2021, during the National Working Meeting on Religious Affairs, that “China should adhere to the direction of sinicization of religion, insist on uniting the masses of religious believers around the party….”
In his speech, he also stressed that efforts should be made to improve further the recognition of the motherland, the Chinese nation, Chinese culture, the CCP, and socialism with Chinese characteristics among religious personages and believers.
In addition, Xi noted that religious figures and believers should be guided to cultivate fundamental socialist values and put them into practice, The Indian Express reported.
Beijing’s campaign to “sinicize” the Catholic Church in China has been greeted with enthusiasm by at least one senior Vatican official, Breitbart noted, citing remarks given by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, during a speech at Rome’s Gregorian University in 2018.
“Two expressions or, more precisely, two principles stand out, which should interact with each other, namely “Sinicization and inculturation.” I am convinced that an important intellectual and pastoral challenge arises in an almost natural way from the bringing together of these two terms, which indicate two real visions of the world.”
“From these two visions, it should be possible to work out the coordinates of an authentic Christian presence in China, which could present the special nature and the newness of the Gospel in a context deeply rooted in the specific identity of the age-old Chinese culture,” he said.
The Liaison Office, which formally represents mainland China in Hong Kong, and officials from Beijing’s State Administration of Religious Affairs oversaw the Zoom sessions. The sessions involved three bishops and about 15 religious figures from the official Catholic Church in mainland China, under the control of the CCP, and some 15 senior clergies from the island.
“This was just the first step and I felt they knew that they could not come into this too heavy or dogmatically,” said one of the Hong Kong clergy attending the meeting.
“We all know the word sinicization carries a political agenda behind it, and they didn’t have to spell that out,” he added.
The erosion of fundamental rights in Hong Kong continues to be a trend in the city following the CCP-imposed national security law. And the religious freedom that the island has, so far, is a threat to the totalitarian power of the atheist communist regime, so it can be expected to become an increasing target of the CCP, as it has been in China.