Only Way for Church to Survive in China is Tolerance: Catholic Priest

Published 16 October 2017  |  

A 90-year-old Chinese Jesuit priest has called the churches and Christian ministries to be realistic and seek a stance of mutual tolerance with the government.

Tolerance is the only way to ensure survival of church in a communist nation like China, he said.

"I'm an optimist, above all because I believe in God. God is the Lord of human history. Whatever way human history proceeds, it never becomes unconnected from the salvific plan of God," said Fr Joseph Shih of Church of St Ignatius.

Shih was a professor at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University for more than three decades. He returned to Shanghai in early 2000s and has been living in Zikawei, a formerly Christian village outside the city.

China is a communist country and there is negligible chance that will change soon. For church to exist in China, the church must have some kind of relationship with the government, said Shih.

"What relation? Opposition? That would be suicidal," he said, according to Herald Malaysia Online.

"Compromise? No, for it would mean the Church loses her own identity. So the only possible relation is that of reciprocal tolerance," he added.

While calling the church to exercise a tolerating relationship with the government, Shih explained the difference between tolerance and compromise.

"Compromise gives something away to the other, up to a level that the other finds satisfying," said Shih.

Whereas, "tolerance gives nothing away, nor does it require that the other give way," he added.

Talks are going on between the Vatican and the Chinese government, he said.

"Currently, there is a dialogue underway between the Holy See and the Chinese government," said Shih.

"I hope that the Holy See does not challenge the Chinese government with ideals that are too high and unrealistic, which would force us to choose between the Church and the Chinese government," he added.


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