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Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association
The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (中国天主教爱国会; designated variously as CPA, CPCA, or CCPA) is the organizational body of Catholics in China as officially recognized by the government of the People's Republic of China.
The Communist Party of China has decided it does not want to have any organization in mainland China swearing loyalty to any 'foreign influence' (in this case, the Pope, as many Popes have spoken about politics). Critics of the CPA argue that its main purpose is to establish state control over Catholicism in mainland China. Regardless, it is has historically been the policy of the PRC government, including prior to 1949 in many respects, for the state to reserve the right to regulate all social activities for what it judges as the benefit of state and people. Officially religious organizations in mainland China today must be government-recognized and approved, although there are a large number of unofficial unregistered organizations.
The Chinese attitude is not completely dissimilar to that demonstrated in many other countries throughout the history of anti-clericalism and prejudice against Catholics. For example, in the United States, candidates for public office often faced insinuations from the electorate that, if elected, these individuals would offer allegiance to a foreign power (i.e. the Vatican); such allegations were also made in regard to President John F. Kennedy before his election.
CPCA & the Roman Catholic Church
The CPA is a schism from the Catholic Church, according to Catholic doctrine. The full Roman Catholic Church, in communion with the Pope, does exist in mainland China, although members are subject to official harassment, and some leaders have been jailed for what are widely believed to be political reasons. In mainland China there are about 4 million members of the CPA, and 12 million members of the authentic ("underground") Catholic Church—defined as being in communion with the Vatican. However, the two have considerable overlap, and up to 70 percent of the priests in the official church, it is estimated, may have also been reconciled with the Vatican and are secretly part of the unofficial church.
The Vatican recognizes the validity of Holy Orders and other sacraments--such as Eucharist--in the CPA because the bishops are episcopal successors of a bishop who received valid orders before the emergence of the schism.
Attitude Towards Papacy and Sino-Vatican Relations
The existence of the CPA in place of an official church under the authority of the Vatican—as well as other reasons from both sides—has prevented the Holy See from establishing diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China; it instead continues to recognize the Republic of China government on Taiwan.
Following the recent death of Pope John Paul II, churches throughout China engaged in special services and memorials to commemorate and mourn his passing. Such activities are tacitly permitted, though official policy toward the Pope in Rome remain the same. Many Chinese Catholics have expressed the sentiment that they wished John Paul could have visited China as the pontiff had once indicated his desire to do; journalists report that many of those who expressed these sentiments, though, may not have been aware of the political rift between the two sides.
Among the novel teachings of the CPA are support for artificial contraception and abortion, and a rejection of the Pope's authority. In addition, the CPA rejects Catholic doctrine formulated after 1949, notably the Vatican II council. As a result, for over forty years, all masses conducted by the CPA were according to the Tridentine rite. In the early 1990's, however, the CPA reformed its liturgy to one closely adhering to the Novus Ordo Missae.
Other religions in mainland China have established "patriotic" organizations after 1949:
- Three-Self Patriotic Movement for Protestant Christians
- Chinese Patriotic Islamic Association
However, the political situation is somewhat different for them--for unlike Catholicism, there is no need for dependence on any authority geographically lying outside mainland China.
- Religion in mainland China
- Chinese house church
- Christianity in China
- Catholicism in China
- Chinese Catholic Bishops Conference
Other "patriotic" Catholic bodies
Dependence on Rome has caused the authorities of several countries across history to induce schism in their churches; these schismatic churches sometimes have existed alongside the Church in full communion with Rome:
- Anglicanism in England.
- the Gallican Church in the Kingdom of France
- the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in Revolutionary France dividing the clergy between jurors and refractory priests.
- Brief description
- The Cardinal Kung Foundation
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