Source: The New York Times
BEIJING — Over the last two years, China’s estimated 60 million Christians have felt the power of a newly assertive government eager to bring their faith to heel.
The authorities have demolished hundreds of Protestant churches, knocking crosses off steeples and evicting congregations. Roman Catholics have faced similar measures, but the government took a different approach this past weekend, striking a diplomatic deal that Vatican officials said was a historic breakthrough — the first formal acknowledgment by Beijing of the pope’s authority in Catholic churches in China.
Beijing’s goal in the agreement, however, appears to be the same as with the church demolitions: greater control over the rapid spread of Christianity, which gained a permanent presence in China in the 16th century.