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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

New rules in China target unregistered Catholic and Protestant churches

The Chinese government has targeted unregistered Catholic and Protestant churches with a new expansion of rules and regulations governing religious organisations.

It will institute another raft of laws covering 41 religion-related topics on 1st February, two years after the implementation of another set of restrictive laws for religious groups in the country.

“The goal is to have all religious organisations brought into the open, registered in one way or another and thus end the duality of ‘official’ religious organisations and ‘underground’ (or unregistered), which in China means the government knows about them but (previously) let them be,” Francesco Sisci, a senior researcher at Beijing’s Renmin University, told Catholic News Service.

Observers have noted that, if widely implemented, Article 34 of the Chinese Communist Party paper – published in late December – would apply direct pressure on unregistered churches.

It would cover “all matters involving money and finances. In practice, every significant move by a religious community should be submitted to authorities and carried out only if approved,” according to AsiaNews, a Rome-based missionary news agency.

As many as 50 per cent of China’s estimated 10 million to 12 million Catholics worship in communities not registered with the Chinese government.

Picture: The Chinese national flag flies in front of a Catholic church in Huangtugang, China, on 30th September 2018. The Chinese government has targeted unregistered Catholic and Protestant churches with an expansion of rules and regulations governing religious organisations. (CNS photo/Thomas Peter, Reuters).