The winter issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly has just been published. In this issue we explore the spiritual journey of Chinese people who are finding Christ and growing in him through the ministry of the Catholic Church in China. Brent Fulton, editor of the Quarterly, writes in his introduction to “A Window into Catholicism in Today’s China:”
For many Protestants serving in China or among Chinese elsewhere in the world, the Catholic Church is seen as rather distinct from their own Christian communities. Historically the Protestant and Catholic churches have taken different paths in their development within China. Politically they are treated as two separate entities, each with its own United Front organization (in the case of Catholic believers, the Catholic Patriotic Association) serving as an interface between church and Party. Although both have suffered the stigma of being viewed as “Western” religions, the Chinese Communist Party has treated China’s Catholics, both within the “official” and “unofficial” churches, with particular suspicion due to their allegiance to the Vatican.
Theologically speaking, the Catholic and Protestant traditions diverge on many issues, and these remain defining factors in the ongoing differences between the two. However, as outgoing World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe remarked recently following a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, we are seeing a new era in the relationship between Evangelicals and Catholics. According to Tunnicliffe, “While there are some ongoing tensions, this new era is an acknowledgment that there are many localized partnerships between Catholics and Evangelicals….” In China, particularly at the grassroots level, the traditional distinctions are becoming less defining as followers of Christ seek to grow in their relationship with God through involvement in Catholic communities.
Our exploration into Catholic life in China is ecumenical in the true sense of acknowledging the differences between the Protestant and Catholic Christian traditions while at the same time being open to learning about and engaging with the uniting work of the Holy Spirit as experienced in the Catholic tradition. Our guest editor for this issue, Tricia Bølle, occupies a unique role in this process as she serves both Catholic and Protestant believers in Asia and has experience interacting with many Christian faith communities. Her vantage point affords a view into the journey of China’s Catholics that Protestants working in China normally have limited opportunity to observe, but which is important in understanding the many ways in which God is working in China today. Our hope is that this perspective will serve as a catalyst for further dialog and, where possible, sharing of resources and insights.
We trust you will find this issue of the Quarterly to be both informative and a catalyst for prayer as you read of what God is doing among Catholics in China today.
We also hope you will enjoy exploring our new website. Besides having a completely new look, we have integrated ZGBriefs and Chinese Church Voices into the site. In addition, we have added extensive browsing capability that allows for more refined searches of content on the site. Please take a look around and let us know what you think!
The ChinaSource Team
- The new year marks for ChinaSource the beginning of a new three-year strategic plan. Give thanks for the opportunities God has put before us, and pray for wisdom to know how best to prioritize these.
- That China’s young adults will find meaningful, personal relationships with Jesus Christ that will be the wellsprings of their lives of faith.
- That within the Catholic church good leaders will be found who will be able to develop effective youth groups, Bible studies and prayer groups.
- For Catholic and Protestant believers who are working together to develop spiritual formation resources for Christians in China.
Photo Credit: Gaylan Yeung
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