Resilient Catholic church in China? Various Church's Strategies for Adapting to Changing Environment



Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The paper examines the dynamic processes of the various social, political and cultural negotiations that the representatives of the “open” Catholic church encounter within authoritarian Chinese societies, where Christianity is a ‘foreign’ religious system brought to China by “colonial powers.” Even today, some Chinese refer to Christianity as yangjiao ??, a term meaning “foreign religion.” Conversion to Christianity is highly problematic for many people in China. Acceptance of a foreign system can mean a violation of the norms of family life and can harm relationships with other family members; Christian priests and missionaries living in Chinese societies are well aware of this. The aim is to observe the Catholic church’s ability to find what best suits the transforming environmental conditions; and an awareness of how to cope with them. Developing on Anthony Gill’s (1998) suggestion that one of the primary aims of religious groups is a maximization or at least retention of believers, the paper seeks to answer the following question: How does the Catholic church attempt to protect and promote its interests in the People’s Republic of China? The first Catholic missionaries came to Asia with the desire to introduce their faith to the local population. We can, therefore, assume that “successful mission” is an essential part of Christianity. To fulfill this ambition in Chinese societies, the church has had to adapt to the local environment, that is, to create a local church (to some degree, small or large). However, this is an ongoing issue, and the church still needs to adapt and localize its dogma and rituals to survive and continue its mission. To achieve its aim of establishing itself on a lasting basis, the church also negotiates with the government. Especially in recent years, the promotion of a political program of sinicization (PRCization) of religion (zongjiao zhongguohua ?????) created a new obstacle for the church.
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