Pope Francis will visit China, hoping to mend the broken relations between the Vatican and the Chinese government.
Image source: Vision Vocation Network
Catholicism in China is a curious case. There has been a division in the Church ever since. On one side is the state-controlled Catholic Church and on the other, the underground Church loyal to the Holy See.
Strained have been relations between the Vatican and China ever since the Cultural Revolution. It’s a well-rounded effort on Pope Francis’s part to reach out to the Chinese Christian community. This is despite the issues looming around Catholicism in the country.
Here are some facts about religion and Christianity in China today.
1. China has no official religion
As imposed by Mao Zedong after the Cultural Revolution, China was to become a secular state. There wouldn't be any sort of religion. One could say atheism is the official “belief” of China with a lot of people associating themselves as irreligious.
2. Majority of the Christian population will concentrate in China soon
Ironically, China will eventually overtake Christians in other countries when talking about numbers. This is due both to the increasing foothold of Christianity and China’s large population.
The Christian populace will rise up to 160 million by 2025. By 2030, the numbers will increase to 230 million. It dwarfs the Christian population of other countries by huge numbers.
3. Pope Francis’s visit might speed up the beatification of Fr. Mateo Ricci
Fr. Ricci was a Jesuit priest assigned in China. He evangelized the country and brought it to the Christian fold. The cause for his canonization is being handled Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Pope Francis knows very well that he is to exercise caution upon entering China. But when it comes to relations between the Holy See and the Chinese authorities, perhaps one should be optimistic. After all, when it's all about the numbers of the faithful among the Chinese, things are looking bright.
May the continued efforts of Pope Francis bring prosperity always.