Some disheartening news on the religious freedom front from China. Reports the BBC:
A newly-ordained bishop is reportedly being held after announcing he was quitting the body that oversees China’s state-sanctioned Catholic Church…Bishop Ma did not return for mass on Sunday and is said to have been taken away to a seminary in Shanghai and forbidden contact with others, according to an Associated Press report, citing Catholic researcher Anthony Lam and the AsiaNews and UCAnews websites.A close friend of the bishop has told the BBC that Bishop Ma has now been forced to undertake “a period of reflection” in private, and one that might last for months.“He has chosen belief over freedom,” the friend said.
Reports like these confirm that despite the explosive growth of Chinese Christianity, the authorities are still not yielding ground on religious freedom. This is a moral shame and a political mistake. Stronger religious organizations would help stabilize and pacify the country. And permitting citizens to practice their chosen faith is the right thing to do.But the Chinese government fears any force that can mobilize opinion outside official channels. It notes with alarm the Pope’s role in the fall of communism in Poland and Europe. Closer to home, it observes that South Korean Christians played a major role in democratization in that country.The official state-sanctioned religious bodies, for their part, are populated by bureaucrats defending their turf and the status quo. Bishops like Ma, who do not acknowledge that authority, are locked away, lest their independence incite the general population. Via Meadia looks forward to the day when all the people of China are free to obey the dictates of their conscience.