Secretly Seeking Salvation: Catholics in Communist China

BY MINISTRY OF TOFU
Jan 04, 2011

With up to 12 million Catholics in China, many underground churches and Catholics loyal to the Pope and reluctant to submit to China’s state-sponsored Catholic association worship clandestinely for fear of persecution.

Contrary to popular belief, China is as much religious as it is atheist. While Buddhism has the biggest influence on Chinese society and culture, and about 1% – 2% of its population is Islamic, statistics of various sources put the number of Catholics in China anywhere from 6 million (a report approved at the 8th National Congress of Chinese Catholics) to 12 million (National Catholic Reporter).

About 70% of Catholics are in the countryside as it is beyond reach of government intervention, there is greater cultural tolerance and acceptance of diversity, and the need for spiritual comfort is urgent. Catholicism blends with Chinese rural customs and traditional folk culture, lending Chinese Catholicism unique touches.

 

318 The priest teaching a poor man and his son how to cross. Zhouzhi county, Oct. 1998

 

319 A child peers under a nun’s wimple, Oct. 1998

 

320 A pin-up calendar lies draped over a lectern as the congregation sings hymns, Taibai county, June, 2001

 

321 A monk plants flags on a Madonna grotto. Fengxiang county, May, 1998

 

 

322 A pious old lady is holding a Christ cross. Zhouzhi county, June, 1998

 

323 A priest attends a funeral. Qishan county, June, 1997

 

324 The picture taken on August 15, 2008 shows Catholic villagers in Shanxi Province playing traditional Chinese music instruments to worship Madonna.

 

325 Catholics in a village of Shanxi Province pray.

 

326 Many villagers are religious. Their faith in God is a choice made to address problems and questions in reality. 64% of believers converted themselves to Catholicism after getting some illness. Lack of advanced medical services and inability to afford medi

 

 

327 Two priests of Shaanxi Province exercise healing power over a very sick old man.

 

328 The senior and women account for 70% of rural population of Catholics. This has a lot to do with the fact that the demographics went through the most hardship in life, have the highest percentage of illiteracy and meet great difficulty in having a say in

 

 

332 Some villagers who own small businesses also find the religion a relief from pressure of risk and competition. The picture taken on October 4, 2008 shows Liang Liang, a Catholic villager from Shanxi Province, carries his newly wedded wife on his back afte

 

 

330 Some villagers who own small businesses also find the religion a relief from pressure of risk and competition. The picture taken on October 4, 2008 shows Liang Liang, a Catholic villager from Shanxi Province, carries his newly wedded wife on his back afte

 

 

331 Li Wenguang and Li Fangqiang from Henan Province were ordained priests.

 

This post was originally published on Ministry of Tofu in December 2010.