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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 21, No. 2. March 27, 1958

Some Religious Freedom

Some Religious Freedom

In China today there is no freedom of religion in the sense in which we understand it. Many churches are permitted to function freely as centres of prayer, provided that they are subservient to the State and accept the supervision of a State-appointed Bureau of Religious Affairs. The churches, however, are not at liberty to set up schools, hospitals, orphanages and the like, nor are they permitted to have their own free Press. The Catholic Church has been singled out for particularly violent persecution because of its foreign contacts and opposition to the regime. It was recently pointed out by Father Aidan McGrath, who spent twenty-four years in China and thirty-two months of them in solitary confinement, that the cost to the Catholic Church has been the expulsion of six thousand missionaries, of whom over fifty European priests died in prison or from ill-treatment; the deaths of five hundred Chinese priests and the imprisonment of one thousand more; and the confiscation of three thousand primary and two thousand secondary schools, two hundred hospitals and three universities. Attempts are also being made to form a "Patriotic Church" headed by a twice-excommunicated ex-Vicar-General of Peking. One can only conclude that the churches are given a limited right to exist but are prevented from proselytizing and from running any educational and charitable institutions.