- Arkansas voter ID law struck down by state judge
- FDA proposes ban on e-cigarette sales to minors
- Bad omen? Italian man crushed to death by John Paul II crucifix
- Company stopped from accepting abortion waste
- Girl surprises Michelle Obama with unemployed dad’s resume
- ‘Harry Potter’ religion class seeks to enlighten students on ‘God, sin, and theodicy’
- ‘Optionally piloted’ Black Hawk helicopter clears tests; future missions to go ‘fully unmanned’
- Vice News reporter kidnapped in Ukraine is freed after being beaten, blindfolded
- FCC’s new ‘net neutrality’ proposal sparks outrage among consumer advocates
- Families of ferry’s lost confront South Korean officials
DECKER: Beijing’s fear of faith
Death of Catholic bishop has communists on red alert
Lent began last week, and like clockwork, China’s communist government ramped up its persecution of the country’s Catholics. Every holy season, Beijing and local cadres bulldoze churches and round up believers to remind Christians that there are severe consequences to faith in the officially atheist People’s Republic. Christmas, for example, is a particularly popular time to arrest priests. For millions of suffering Chinese trying to worship freely, martyrdom at the hands of the state isn’t a relic of past ages; it’s a fact of everyday life.
What instigated the latest crackdown was the death on Ash Wednesday of 95-year-old Bishop Andrew Hao Jinli of Xiwanzi, who shepherded believers in the underground church in the rural northeastern province of Hebei. Security forces were mobilized to block the flock from paying last respects and attending his funeral. In the past two weeks, pro-democracy dissidents have been arrested in Hebei. As popular protests topple and threaten authoritarian regimes across the Middle East, communist officials clearly don’t want to take any chances by allowing any concentration of disgruntled Chinese to build up.
Bishop Hao’s story parallels that of many of his coreligionists in the Middle Kingdom. Ordained in 1943, his existence became increasingly precarious after Maoists took over China in 1949, outlawed church connections to Rome and eventually established the communist-run Patriotic Catholic Association in 1957. Refusing to renounce his beliefs or his loyalty to the papacy, Bishop Hao endured decades of prison, torture and forced labor camps.
The cleric’s life and death reflect the rocky relationship between Beijing and the Vatican. Late last year, the Patriotic Church consecrated a bishop without consent from the Holy See and elected an outlaw not approved by the pope to head the Chinese Catholic Bishops Association. These moves broke with recent practice and put bilateral relations at their worst point in many years for the two strict hierarchical organizations responsible for over a billion souls each.
Communist anxiety over a dead country priest exposes official paranoia about any movement or association state authorities cannot control. Beijing can have soldiers patrol the streets, put spies in pews, have junior Marxists taking notes in the classroom, micromanage newspapers, pick and choose corporate executives and try to censor the Internet, but it’s impossible to control all the people all the time – especially in a fragile, diverse nation of 1.3 billion. With 75 million members in the Chinese Communist Party, there are a lot of fingers to plug leaks, but eventually the dike will burst.
Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times.
About the Author
Brett M. Decker, former Editorial Page Editor for The Washington Times, was an editorial page writer and editor for the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong, Senior Vice President of the Export-Import Bank, Senior Vice President of Pentagon Federal Credit Union, speechwriter to then-House Majority Whip (later Majority Leader) Tom DeLay and reporter and television producer for the legendary Robert ...
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
Only IRS employees could expect rewards for failing to pay their taxes
Get Breaking Alerts
- Holder cancels appearance in OKC amid angry protests
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- In its hunt for Senate, Republican candidates campaign against Harry Reid
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Obamacare class-action suit opens a new legal front
- Sold out: Ukraine's leadership swapped best military weapons for cash
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- Gun control supporters send message to NRA
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Nevada rancher's racial remarks cost him range of support
Recent Letters to the Editor
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don't punish unborn for parents' sins
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Fraud minimal in house-call health care
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Palestinian Authority on 'jihad-care'?
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Recalling foresight of Reagan, Thatcher on SDI
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A double standard on pejoratives?