(Shanghai, China – November 16, 2023) The inaugural “Seminar on the Sinicization of Catholicism: History and Prospects” was held in Shanghai on November 7-8. Organized by the Catholic Diocese of Shanghai and co-sponsored by the officially recognized Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association of Shanghai, the Catholic Committee for Educational Affairs in Shanghai, and the Shanghai Catholic Intellectuals Society, the “First Seminar on the Sinicization of Catholicism: History and Prospects” was an exploration of the path of sinicization taken by the Catholic Church in Shanghai.
It aimed to provide a theoretical foundation for researching the historical experiences of the development of the Shanghai Catholic Church and insisting on the path of sinicization under the current political context. The topics covered included the contributions of Catholicism to the country, politics of patriotism, social values, service awareness, ideological and cultural development, social responsibility, sinicization, and more.
The seminar was covered in broad terms by the China Religion Magazine. More than 20 experts and scholars from several universities in China, Shanghai Normal University and Sheshan Catholic Seminary, including more than ten research institutes and more than 200 priests, nuns, and middle-aged core members from the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association of Shanghai, the Catholic Committee for educational affairs in Shanghai, the Shanghai Catholic Intellectuals Society, and the Catholic Diocese of Shanghai were invited to participate in the seminar.
The Shanghai Catholic Diocese receives special attention from Bishop Joseph Li Shan in Beijing, who sees it as a crucial battleground for the sinicization of Catholicism in China. Bishop Joseph Li Shan expressed that the long history and excellent traditions of Catholicism in Shanghai represent a precious treasure for the Catholic Church in China. Since the reform and opening-up, the Catholic community in Shanghai has made significant contributions to the development of Catholicism.
For the advancement of the sinicization of Catholicism in the future, it is necessary to elevate the political stance and promote the Chinese Catholic tradition of loving the Church and the country. There is a need to enhance ideological and cultural developments, and courageously shoulder the mission of the times; to strengthen self-development and give full play to our traditional strengths. Additionally, fostering a consciousness of serving society and fulfilling social responsibilities is crucial, Joseph Li Shan expressed.
Chen Chang, Director of the Shanghai Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau, holds high expectations for the sinicization of Catholicism in Shanghai. He expects this seminar to provide broader perspective and stronger motivation to deepen the progress of sinicization of Catholicism in Shanghai. He believes that the sinicization of Catholicism is based on the current historical process and the general trend of the times in China. He has three specific requests for Catholicism in Shanghai.
He proposes, “Clearly define the position, role, and direction of efforts of catholicism within it. Raise up the banner of loving the country and the Church, continue to adhere to the principles of independence and self-management without wavering, share the destiny with the Chinese people, and be of one heart and one mind with the Party and to move in the same direction.”
This integration should lead to “the formation of a Chinese style and demeanor, promoting the deepening and solidification of the sinicization of Catholicism in Shanghai. Strengthen team building, leverage Shanghai’s unique geographical advantages, further enhance political positioning, broaden perspectives, and improve the Church’s self-management and self-restraint capabilities. And to take new strides in Catholicism in Shanghai in terms of team building, conduct, and unity of believers.”
Bishop Joseph Shen Bin of the Shanghai Catholic Diocese, based on the experience of the Chinese Church’s development, believes that adhering to the direction of sinicization of Catholicism in China, following the path of loving the country, loving the Church, and independently managing its own affairs, will lead the way for the advancement of the Chinese Catholic Church. He hopes that this seminar will serve as a starting point, allowing the Shanghai Catholic Church to explore a practical path in the research and exploration of the sinicization of Catholicism.
Communist Party official Zhou Longhua, Standing Member of the Party Committee of Fengxian District and Director of the United Front Work Department of the district, expressed anticipation that the clergy would continue to uphold the fine tradition of loving the country and the Church, showcasing the achievements of the sinicization of Catholicism in their missionary work. He hopes they will contribute to creating a harmonious religious and social atmosphere for the economic and social development of Fengxian District.