Undercover Chinese priest in Europe: There are still priests imprisoned in China
(Rome Reports) This is Fr. Giovanni, and we can’t show his face because he’s Chinese. Nor can we reveal his real name or where he was born. It’s the price he has to pay as a Chinese Catholic priest. He’s now finishing his formation in Europe, still undercover.
Fr. Giovanni says, “In China, the undercover seminary means it’s unidentifiable. It’s a normal house. It’s not a building built to be a seminary. They are houses offered to us by the faithful. If they have another house and no longer use this old one, they offer it to us for a seminary, but secretly.”
Fr. Giovanni changed seminary-houses in China three times in three years. He and his 11 colleagues had to flee before daylight to avoid suspicion by authorities. Fr. Giovanni said, “Some faithful have spent some time in jail for offering their houses or assisting the seminary.” The priest assures there are still priests imprisoned in China and that complete religious freedom is far from being realized.
He further stated, “There are still some but not many, it depends on each diocese’s situation. Now, there is news about dialogue between authorities, and it seems the situation is more or less calm but, from what I see, it’s not. We can say the situation is always the same. The official Church does have a certain freedom, but it’s limited because it’s completely controlled. You have to do as you’re told.”
During these years, the priest has returned to his country, but never while dressed as a priest, because he is not seen as one by the government. Despite restrictions, Fr. Giovanni hopes to complete his formation to go back to China as soon as possible. The priest is confident that relations between the Vatican and China could mean greater freedom, although he assures that, far from diminishing faith, difficulties make the country’s Catholics stronger.
Scholar urges Chinese to learn to defend against new religion regulations
(Cruxnow) New stricter religious affairs regulations in China should prompt believers to become more aware of how to defend their rights, said Ying Fuk-tsang, director of the divinity school at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Ucanews.com reported that the regulations, which take effect Feb. 1, were first released in draft form in 2014 before a fuller version was made public in 2017. Critics maintained that concerns expressed about an eroding of religious freedom were largely ignored, ucanews.com reported.
Ying told ucanews.com that much would depend on how lower- and higher-level communist officials implement the details of the amended Regulations for Religious Affairs. This would apply to open, officially recognized religious groupings as well as to so-called underground or house practitioners, he added.
For this reason, Ying said believers being subjected to the new regulations should become knowledgeable about legal options to challenge unfair treatment. The new framework, as well as setting out requirements for sanctioned religious venues, deals with allowable activities such as education as well as property rights and legal liability.
Another area of religious practice that Ying believes authorities want to more tightly control is that of so-called “gray church” communities that are tacitly sanctioned by the government but have not registered.
The professor explained that, in the past, the government had tolerated some house or underground churches and, as long as they had not been specifically targeted by authorities, there was a lot of room for them to maneuver in governing their own affairs. Those who might not be willing to register could be subjected to closer monitoring, Ying said.
Act now, Nigeria under siege, Catholic bishops tell Buhari
(Vanguardng) Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, yesterday, in Abuja told President Muhammadu Buhari that the country appeared to be under siege which required proactive measure, as hunger, hopelessness and deprivation are now the order of the day. The Bishops, under the umbrella of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, also told the President that he came to power under the goodwill of Nigerians but the goodwill had been eroded as a result of the failure of government to tackle the myriads of problems facing the nation.
The CBCN in an address delivered by its President, the Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, also told the President that the heightening clamor for restructuring of the country, agitation for secession, among other things, were as a result of disregard for the principle of federal character by the government.
They further advised that elected political office holders should concentrate more on how to solve the problems before the country and not to saddle themselves with re-election programs, even as they told the President to use his affinity with the herdsmen to tackle the menace of rampaging herdsmen that have massacred many innocent Nigerians. The Bishops in the address, which was co-signed by Most Rev. Dr. William Avenya, Bishop of Gboko Diocese of Benue State and Secretary of CBCN, said the silence of the Federal Government on the attacks by herdsmen was shocking.
The President however, assured the Catholic Bishops that the Federal Government would continue to explore all opportunities and support initiatives to ensure peace and stability in restive areas. Condemning recent spate of killings in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, and Zamfara states, the President said security operatives would ensure prosecution of perpetrators and all those found with illegal arms in the affected areas.