The Catholic Church in China: What's next?
First came Cuba...so now the question is- is China next? Will the communist country improve its ties with the Vatican and be in full communion with the Catholic Church? There's no question Pope Francis has been pushing for improvements, but some experts say, they wouldn't bet on any major changes...at least not yet. FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA Asia News, Director "China is currently the world's second largest economic power. It's almost a super power when it comes to international politics. Unlike Cuba, it doesn't need the help of the Vatican or really from anyone else to cement its standing.â? Fr. Bernardo Cervellera, is the founder of Asia News. For many years, he served as a missionary in China, until he was 'invited' to leave the country. With Christianity on the rise in Asia, by the year 2050, China could become the nation with the most Christians. There's one major challenge between the Vatican and China. The communist nation claims -it- alone runs its Church, brushing off any Vatican influence. It assigns its own Bishops and often claims its autonomy. FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA Asia News, Director "China's department of religious affairs continuously sends out messages stating that it wants an independent Church. It threatens with ordaining , say, 15 new bishops a year. It claims it has a right to lead an independent Church without the influence of foreign entities, meaning the Vatican.â? In fact, legitimate Chinese Bishops assigned by the Vatican have been known to mysteriously disappear without a trace in their own country. Others are sent to forced labor camps. There is good news though. In most areas, the average faithful can openly practice their faith in China. But restrictions still exist in the ways parish priest run their churches, including Mass times. FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA Asia News, Director "This means that parish priests don't have the liberty to go out on missions or assess the needs of their communities and act accordingly with their own initiatives. They have to follow guidelines established by the government.â? Fr. Cervellera doesn't think any major breakthrough improvements will happen between the Holy See and China in the near future. It's a process that he believes, will take at the very least ten years. KLH AA -SV PR Up: JPB