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Chinese bishop says state must come before church

by Cara Bentley

Bishop John Fang Xingyao, the bishop of the Diocese of Lanyi (a city near the east coast in Shangdong province), was speaking at the Political Consultative Conference on Religions - a Communist Party sponsored meeting last week discussing religion in China.

Bishop Fang is also the president of a state-sponsored Catholic group, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. The group was on one side of a disagreement between China and the Vatican about the presence of the Roman Catholic Church in China.

In 2018, the Vatican-China agreement was made which, apart from being mostly secret, aimed to bring together the state-sponsored group and the underground Catholic Church.

It allowed the Pope to veto bishops approved by the Communist Party of China.

Bishop Fang was first appointed a bishop by the Chinese government in 1994.

However, those who do not attend state-sponsored Catholic (and Protestant) churches are frequently reported to face more persecution.

This week, a Protestant pastor in China was sentenced to four years in prison, charged with "illegal business operations."

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