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Bishop Stephen Chow of Hong KongROME REPORTS in English/YouTube

HONG KONG (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Stephen Chow, SJ, of Hong Kong has accepted an invitation from Communist-approved Beijing Archbishop Joseph Li Shan to make a visit to his diocese and seminary next month.

Li Shan is the president of the Communist-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), the state-controlled so-called “Catholic” Church in China that runs parallel to the underground Roman Catholic Church.

The Diocese of Hong Kong announced today that Bishop Chow will visit Beijing with Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha, OFM, and Father Peter Choy, the diocese’s vicar general, for five days beginning April 17.

The media release stated that, “according to Bishop Chow, this visit underscores the mission of the Diocese of Hong Kong to be a bridge Church and promote exchanges and interactions between the two sides. The invitation was received sometime last year from the Diocese of Beijing and accepted in the spirit of brotherhood in the Lord toward the end of last year.”

The Union of Catholic Asian (UCA) News reported the Hong Kong bishop “will also visit the Beijing Major Seminary, the national seminary of the Catholic Church in China, and other relevant institutions concerning religious affairs.”

UCA detailed that “upon arriving in Beijing, the bishop will participate in the evening prayers and celebrate a thanksgiving Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing. The prelate’s travel will also include a visit to the tomb of Italian Jesuit missionary Father Matteo Ricci, who was recently declared venerable.”

However, Bishop Li Shan is heavily involved with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In addition to being President of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association since August 2022, Bishop Li Shan is a vice president of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which, according to AsiaNews, “is called to rubber-stamp decisions taken by President Xi Jinping and other Communist Party leaders.”

Li Shan has publicly voiced support CCP’s agenda of sinicization of religions in China, the independent selecting of “Catholic” bishops, and supporting Communist Party leadership. In 2019, Li Shan delivered an address at the Beijing Catholic Forum for Sinicization of Theology in which he stated, “Catholicism tells us that love for one’s country is the fourth commandment of the decalogue … Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake … Supporting the leadership of the Communist Party and fervently loving our socialist motherland is the basic premise for upholding our country’s direction to Sinicize religion.”

In 2011, in defiance of Rome, Li Shan was co-consecrator along with six other bishops in a canonically illicit episcopal ordination for the bishop of Leshan, which was not approved by the Vatican and which carries an automatic sentence of excommunication, “latae sententiae.”

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Just last week, outgoing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in his opening remarks for the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) that, “The basic policy of the [Chinese Communist] Party on religious activities has been implemented and the ‘sinicisation’ of religions has been carried out gradually.”

He declared that the government must “actively guide religions to adapt to socialist society.”

A priest of the underground Roman Catholic Church in China, who must remain anonymous for the sake of safety, told LifeSiteNews that every standing church building in the country belongs to the Chinese Patriotic Association, the communist-controlled, state-run, “official” church. The underground Catholics who refuse to register with the Chinese Communist Party or the Chinese Patriotic Association, or to accept Communist doctrine, meet clandestinely for Mass in “house churches.” In the “official” church, Communist doctrine is openly preached from the pulpit.

The Cardinal Kung Foundation, which has been outspoken in its opposition to the state-run church in China, noted in a 2000 letter to the Vatican that the Patriotic Association has even jumped on board with the government’s agenda on abortion, birth control, and sterilization.

The Foundation wrote, “In September 1995, the CPA Bishops’ Conference issued a pastoral letter calling for all Chinese Catholics to support China’s ‘Platform for the Development of Women.’ We all know well that this Platform includes birth control, sterilization, and the one family, one-child policy whereby women who are pregnant after having one child are forced by the Chinese government to abort their unborn babies.”

In contrast to the CPA bishops, Cardinal Ignatius Kung Pin Mei, ordained bishop of Shanghai in 1949, was imprisoned for 30 years for refusing to renounce the Catholic faith and the authority of the Pope, steadfastly refusing to capitulate to the Communist authorities in Beijing. Kung also called out Catholic bishops outside of China who cooperated with or donated to the Patriotic Association.

According to the Kung Foundation, “In his homily televised nationally on June 29, 1994, the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, Cardinal Ignatius Kung said:

Many Catholic Church leaders in the Free world extended hospitality and donated large sums of money to bishops of the Communist’s Patriotic Association. The Chinese government regards these friendships and cooperation with the Patriotic Association as an endorsement of its current policy on religion. With this license, they continue their persecution of the loyal Roman Catholic Church without any fear of reprisal. Unfortunately, these misguided friendships and acts of charity on behalf of the Patriotic Association have only prolonged the sufferings of the loyal Church … This is a disservice to the Chinese. This is a ridicule to the continued sacrifices and sufferings of the loyal ‘underground’ Roman Catholic communities. It is a mockery to the blood of the thousands of Chinese martyrs.

The Kung Foundation stated, “The underground bishops in China have lived under the Communist rules for almost half a century and have survived many turbulent periods. Regardless of this most difficult situation, they have succeeded in increasing the Catholic population from three million to almost 10 million. They are also experienced in Communist tactics and psychology. They are prepared to pay for their fidelity and faith with their life and blood as they are taught by the history of the Church.”

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China expert Steve Mosher, commenting on the situation and whether the CCP will try to take over the Catholic Church in Hong Kong as it has done in mainland China, told LifeSiteNews, “Of course, the United Front Department of the CCP, which is responsible for directing the activities of the Patriotic Catholic Church, will also try the same tactics on the Church in Hong Kong. Remember, ‘Sinicization means that all religious communities should be led by the Party, controlled by the Party, and support the Party.’ The CCP only allows religious organizations to exist if they agree to serve, in effect, as extensions of the Party.  That’s what ‘united front’ means in the Chinese Communist context.”

WATCH: China expert Steve Mosher: Secret Vatican deal gives Church control to Communist Party

The move to visit Beijing and the president of the Chinese Patriotic Association marks a notable difference between the current bishop of Hong Kong and his predecessors, including the outspoken Cardinal Joseph Zen, who has been arrested numerous times and was put on trial last fall by the CCP for criticizing and opposing their suppression of religious and civic freedoms on Hong Kong and mainland China.

RELATED: Catholic priest says Chinese communists are tightening their grip on the Church in Hong Kong

Worse than silence in the face of the increased Communist persecution of the Church, the bishop’s visit may signal the imminent end of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong and an attempt to establish a state-run “official” church by the CCP, mirroring the Patriotic Association on the mainland.


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