When Pope Francis said on September 13, 2022, in the middle of a flight between Rome and Kazakhstan: “I am always ready to go to China,” it was interpreted as an opening between the Vatican and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), especially after the events attacking a Catholic cardinal who presided over a pro-democracy fund in Hong Kong.

After the papal words, experts predicted that the Supreme Pontiff would coordinate with Xi Jinping in the renewal of the dialogue between the Holy See and the CCP for the appointment of bishops. However, there were no changes given the Chinese reluctance to negotiate with Christians.

The inopportune words of the Pope overshadowed his visit to Nursultan, the capital that hosted an interreligious conclave from September 13 to 15 of the same month.

It seems that Xi did not want to meet with the Vatican curia, since he arrived in ancient Astana a day after the Pope’s departure to meet with Kazakh President Kassin-Jomart Tokayev.

According to a Vatican source, the Pope’s comment was “an expression of availability,” but the CCP clarified “that it did not have free time to speak with the Pope,” Catholic experts confirmed.

Everything indicates that there will be no consensus between the Vatican and Beijing for a long time since the CCP sees Christianity as a Western outpost.

The Christian Church is persecuted in China

In October 2022, Yang Jianxin, an evangelical pastor in the central province of Henan, was sentenced to five years in prison for printing Bibles considered “illegal” and violating the Chinese regime’s strict control over the dissemination of religious content.

This man of faith from the city of Lingbao was accused of “enemy propaganda”, as defined by the CCP after his onslaught against the Reformed Church, where Jang Jianxin opposed the principles of the Three Autonomies since 2018.

A schism between the Communist leadership and the Christian churches within Reformism resulted, to which the CCP responded with the desecration of holy symbols and demolishing temples that same year.

The ecumenical council of the Three Autonomies dominated by CCP

The CCP controls the entry of Christian literature into the national territory. For this purpose, the coordinator of religious affairs, Lei Shi Hong, determines the amounts and which churches receive them. He branded as “pornography” the bibles printed by the evangelical pastor.

Yang Jianxin had entrusted, in 2021, to a local printing company to print sacred texts, but this company betrayed him. As a result, on February 7, 2022, the prosecutor’s office of the city of Lingbao in Henan arrested him.

He was sentenced to five years in prison for the crimes of “enemy propaganda” and “spiritual contamination” after the judge considered the bibles as “pornography.”

Regulatory framework for religious affairs in China

Article 36 of the Communist Constitution confirms that the Chinese regime guarantees freedom of belief and clarifies in the letter that no state organization, individual, or social group can force a citizen to accept or not accept a religious faith.

However, in spirit, the Magna Carta states that no one may use religion against the order of society or hinder the activities of the State’s educational system since religious groups shall not be subject to the power of foreign domination.

A brief historical sketch points out the CCP’s perversity towards faith when in 1982, the Constitution, last amended in 2004, clearly drew the line of religious persecution.

In 1994 rules were implemented regulating the religious activities of foreigners in China, which prevented “Western penetration.”

By the year 2000, an implementing regulation of the Regulations for Religious Activities of Foreigners put an end to the relative freedom enjoyed by missionaries in the country.

And in 2004, the Regulations on Religious Affairs required excessive formalities for the Registration of Religious Ministers.

The Chinese Communist Party recognizes only five religions

The CCP is officially atheist. However, it acknowledges Buddhism, Catholicism, Taoism, Islam, and Protestantism as religions practiced on national territory, all of which, without exception, are persecuted by the communist apparatus.

Secret statistics show a growing number of popular religions and a dozen forbidden spiritual communities, fueling the rise of religious persecution in a country with the highest rates of conscientious objectors in prison.

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