A statement of 2001 applauding the bloody crackdown on practitioners has been republished this month.
by Yang Feng
During the times when it was an organization excommunicated by the Vatican because its bishops were appointed by the CCP rather than by Rome, the Patriotic Catholic Church issued several statements supporting the cruel repression of Falun Gong. This was not surprising, as that schismatic church was widely regarded as a puppet organization of the CCP.
With the Vatican-China deal of 2018, renewed in 2020 and 2022, the schism between the Patriotic Catholic Church and the “underground” Catholic Church loyal to the Vatican was theoretically healed. Rome recognized the bishops of the Patriotic Catholic Church. The former “underground” Catholics were encouraged to affiliate with the Patriotic Catholic Church, although those “Catholic conscientious objectors” who refused to do so, while not encouraged in their attitude by the Vatican, were still regarded as being in communion with Rome.
One might have expected that, after becoming somewhat affiliate with the Vatican, the Patriotic Catholic Church would have ceased to publicly support the most obnoxious repressive practices of the CCP towards other religions. After all, this may now embarrass the Vatican as well.
However, on October 17, the China Anti-Xie-Jiao Association, which proudly claims to be the largest anti-cult organization in the world and is directly controlled by the CCP, republished a 2001 statement by the then president of the China Patriotic Catholic Association, Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan. Fu was the leader of the Patriotic Catholic Church for nine years, from 1998 to his death in 2007. Although persecuted during the Cultural Revolution, he was regarded as a very loyal CCP supporter, and the Party even made him the Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People’s Congress.
To avoid any possible misunderstanding, the China Anti-Xie-Jiao Association explicitly mentions that the statement has been supplied to them by the Patriotic Catholic Church, which still stands by it.
In the statement, Bishop Fu Tieshan wrote that genuine religions are progressive and patriotic, and are not only respectful but “enthusiastic” about Chinese authorities and the ideas they promote. By contrast, “xie jiao” such as Falun Gong are un-patriotic, anti-social, “ugly,” and “a threat to society.”
The Patriotic Church leader claimed that “xie jiao such as Falun Gong ignore basic human ethics and moral standards. To satisfy the personal desires of the leaders, they act arbitrarily, trample on human ethics, destroy human nature, and even take human lives lightly.”
Fu expressed his full support to the government’s campaign against Falun Gong. He wrote this in 2001, and he was not just expressing a theological disagreement. By supporting the repression of Falun Gong, he became an accomplice of massive campaigns of arrests, extra-judicial killings, and torture.
The crimes against humanity targeting Falun Gong practitioners, acknowledged as such by international organizations and by the U.S. Department of State, continue today. By allowing the statement to be republished, the Patriotic Catholic Church confirms the old dictum that a leopard cannot change its spots. In communion or not with the Vatican, the Patriotic Catholic Church continues to be the most loyal supporter of the CCP’s repression of “illegal” religions. Does the Vatican have anything to say?