Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 16, No. 18. September 18, 1952
Sir.—Mr. Courtney Archer's statement ("Salient." Aug. 14) that in China "religious" freedom Wat guaranteed both on paper and in practice" seems more than a little optimistic In the face of the following facts:
Of 5380 Catholic missionaries who were working in China in 1948, 1650 remain today; the rest have been killed or expelled. Of the foreign priests still in China, at least 75 per cent. are under arrest; none have full freedom of movement. These figures arc from the American "Far Bast" magazine for July, 1952. The order of St. Columban, which has a seminary at Lower Hutt, reports that in 1948 there were 152 Columban priests in China, and 22 today.
A survey completed recently at Hongkong by the "Chinese Missionary "Bulletin," shows that at least 75 per cent. of the orphanages formerly conducted by Catholic missionaries in China have been confiscated. The status and whereabouts of 8487 children of the 11,877 who had been cared for by the religious arc now unknown.
These figures are comparable for all the Christian groups.
One of the finest women on the Presbyterian China Mission. Miss Annie James. M.B.E.. who is at present in Wellington, was imprisoned for several months. Her crime was that for 30 years she had had a maternity hospital at Kaaih Hau, where some thousands of children had been born and cared for. Is this "religious freedom"?
P. M. Burns
S. F. Johnston
F. L. Curtin
P. M. Hoskins
As this is the last issue this year, and as the above is a very interesting letter, we shall take the liberty of pointing out the arguments which would probably be raised in a letter by you-know-who and would in the ordinary course of events be published in the next issue.
(1) ". . . rest killed or expelled . . ." is rather vague for what purports to be a factual letter. It could mean anything from 3749 killed and one expelled to one killed and 3749 expelled. There would be the same difference of opinion over "killed." a point being raised perhaps that what might be "died" in democratic New Zealand might be "killed" in Communistic Cihna.
(2) To qualify a definite figure (as in "at least 75 per cent") might rouse a doubt in a reader's mind whether the writers of this letter were at all certain themselves. Full freedom of movement in any society means very little. Again the answerers might quibble with the letter in defining the phrase, which changes scope from country to country.
(3) The veracity and validity of the source might be queried by some correspondents.
(4) To state that there were so many priests in China at one time and very many less now and leave it at that is an inconclusive way of putting it. A normal logical thinker, it might be argued, would hardly connect the politics of China as a sine qua non to the number of foreign priests in China. We realise Mr. Hutchings might smile at this but this point could be raised by a hypothetical correspondent.
(5) That 75 per cent. of orphanages were confiscated would logically follow if only approximately one-quarter of the foreign missionaries remained in China. It might be [unclear: argued] that the Chinese should not leave these buildings unoccupied, considering her housing problem.
(6) With the foreign church in China so depleted, and unorganised, and three-quarters of the orphanages out of church hands, it would seem quite probable that two-thirds of the children could not be accounted for, there are many other points which could be made by rabid political adherents but we shall leave these unsaid. This note should not be take as expressiong a view upon the question, but upon the letter itself.—Ed.