Monday, July 18, 2011

Warming up again

Not the temperatures around here (Lord knows they surpassed "warm" looong ago!.... be thankful if you've gone to Canada for the summer). Not the temps, but the posting here on SFC. I've taken quite the summer break in posting but Father Joe has kept the ship afloat. But we're warming back up to give you your regular daily dose of SFC.

Let's start our time back together with a prayer for the Catholic Church in China. What's going on there? Well, here's an explanation in a nutshell:

Since taking power of the country in 1949, the Communist Party in China has allowed the Catholic Church to operate only with close government supervision. Under Communist Chinese law, Catholics must worship within parishes of the state-approved Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), which does not accept the primacy of the Bishop of Rome (i.e. the Pope). As you can imagine, this is a problem.

There are an estimated 12 million Catholics in China. Since the beginning of this situation, many Chinese Catholics (bishops, priests and laypeople) have refused to cooperate with the CCPA. As a result, these Catholics have been oppressed by the government and many have been subjected to long prison sentences, torture and, in some cases, even martyrdom. The Chinese Catholics who have remained loyal to the Pope and have refused to join the CCPA have set up a vast underground network within China. Some estimate that as many as two thirds of Chinese Catholics are members of an underground Catholic parish.

In 2007, Pope Benedict and the Vatican began new efforts at normalizing the situation of Catholics within China and at normalizing relations between the Vatican and the Chinese government. The major problem is that in current discipline, only the Pope can appoint bishops within the Church. But the CCPA insists on appointing its own bishops with or without papal approval.

For a while, it looked like increased cooperation between China and the Vatican would yield positive results. The CCPA began to appoint bishops only after consultation with the Vatican. But this system has broken down in recent months and the CCPA has again begun appointing new bishops without any consultation with the Vatican.

The war of words has gotten pretty ugly in this situation and there is no doubt that prayer is needed. Today, please take a moment to pray for our brother and sister Catholics in China. Pray that they all will soon be able to worship together in the open, in freedom and in visible unity with all of the Church.