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I. Basic Background
At the Central United Front Work Conference convened in May 2015, General Secretary Xi Jinping clearly stated that active guidance of religions' adaptation to socialist society must adhere to the direction of sinification. At the National Religious Work Conference convened in April 2016 and the 19th Party Congress convened in October 2017, General Secretary Xi Jinping further explained our country's position on sinifying religion.
In December 2016, the "Resolution" of the 9th meeting of the National Chinese Catholic Congress emphasized that for the following five years, the Catholic Church in China "should thoroughly study and implement the spirit of the series of important addresses by General Secretary Xi Jinping and of the National Conference on Religious Work, to continuously lead the entire nation's clergy and congregation to adhere to the direction of the sinification of Catholicism."
In recent years, while adhering to the direction of sinification of Catholicism, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China (hereinafter the CCPA and BCCCC), have promoted the church's theological research, have organized several seminars and forums, published relevant books, and thoroughly considered the path for developing the Catholic Church in China. Some local Patriotic Associations and Catholic Administration Commissions, and parishes have also organized seminars discussing sinfication of Catholicism in our country, helping develop an ideological atmosphere in the church for the sinification of Catholicism.
Currently, Catholicism in our nation's adherence to the direction of sinification has achieved greater understanding among priests and the intellectuals, but ordinary Catholics do not always accurately understand its meaning and goals; and in certain areas, like church rites, there have been rich accomplishments in sinification, but in terms of theological ideology, innovation and exploration starting from contemporary Chinese social and cultural environment in the consideration of sinification of Catholicism; and there are still differing viewpoints within the Church on adherence to the direction sinification, due to reasons such as bias and misunderstanding.
In order to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people in the world, Paul the Apostle initiated the idea: "I have become all things to all men." (1 Cor 9:22). From an historical perspective, the healthy development of Catholicism in our country and the Church's adaptation to society and culture are the same, and there have been both positive and negative experiences that can be drawn from in this regard. After the Second Vatican Council, discussion of localization among the churches of the world opened a new route for the local development of the Catholicism. In our country, adherence to the direction of sinification of Catholicism has had an important significance, and since the establishment of new China, especially in the 40 years since Reform and Opening, the Catholic Church in China has worked to adapt to the socialist society with Chinese characteristics and has had great achievements on evangelizing. As our country has entered into a new era of development, it is urgent to solidify the foundation for the development of the Church in our country's society and culture by deepening the sinification of Catholicism. It is therefore necessary to be problem-oriented, to focus on study of theological ideology, and to establish examples of the sinification of Catholicism, to forcefully advance the sinification of Catholicism.
II. Guiding Ideology, Primary Goals, and Basic Meaning
(1) Guiding Ideology
Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, particularly the spirit of his speeches on the adherence to the direction of sinification of religions in our country, and led by the Core Socialist Values, follow the direction and path of sinification clearly identified by the 9th National Congress of Chinese Catholic Representatives; to continuously promote the sinification of Catholicism and gradually enrich the sinification of Catholicism, on the basis of bible and inheriting traditions, and complying with the thoughts and discussion of the Second Vatican Council.
(2) Main Goals
Increase understanding and recognition within the Church of adherence to the direction of sinification of Catholicism, advancing the adaptation of Catholicism and socialist society in our nation, leading the clergy and congreagations to practice the Core Socialist Values, strengthening the Church's own construction, advancing the church's spreading of its blessings, giving play to the active role of Catholicism in promoting out nation's economic and social development, and give strength to the realization of the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese People.
Further explore content in religious doctrine and canon that are conducive to social harmony, modern progress, and human civilization; interpret doctrines and canon in line with contemporary Chinese developments and improvements and China's outstanding traditional culture, continuously solidifying the harmonious foundation for relations between Catholicism and the Party, government, society, other faiths, and non-believers.
(3) Basic Meaning
Adherance to the direction of sinification of Catholicism in our country requires conscientious approval in politics. Love of the motherland, and obedience to the national regime is the responsibility and obligation of every Christian. The core of political approval is accepting the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, supporting the Socialist system, and preserving the authority of the Constitution and laws, the unity of the people, and the integrity of the mother land;
Adherence to the direction of sinification of Catholicism in our country requires conscientious cultural integration. Practice the Core Socialist Values and accept infusion of the exceptional Chinese traditional culture; advocate Chinese styles and integrate with Chinese culture in suggestions on theological ideology, expressions of social rites, and in construction of churches, painting, music and art.
Adhering to the direction of sinification of Catholicism in our country requires conscientious adaptation to society. To adapt to and serve society, and to fulfill its social responsibility, carry out all work of the Catholicism in accordance with law, preserve the lawful rights and interests of the Church, carry forward the Catholic spirit of being the ‘salt and light' of the world, explore and expand new paths for serving society, promoting social harmony, and join in building a beautiful China.
III. Deepen the Political, Legal and Social Recognition of the Chinese Catholic Church
Lead clergy and congregations to actively practice the Core Socialist Values, ardently love the motherland, support the leadership of the Communist Party and the socialist system, observe law and discipline, and serve society.
(1) Carry out Publicity and Education on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and the Core Socialist Values
1. Study and implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era through methods such as publicity, visits, and study exchanges; strengthening clergy and congregations' self-confidence in the path, theory, systems, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; and recognition of the unity between patriotism and devotion, and between the healthy development of Catholicism and the prosperity and strength of the motherland;
2. Carry out publicity and education on the Core Socialist Values, and make their practice a basic requirement of adherence to the direction of sinifying the Catholic Church; and guide clergy and congregations to establish and adhere to correct views of history and ethnicity, and strengthen awareness of the community of the Chinese people.
3. Implement the charter and work regulations of the Patriotic Association, complete and improve each local organization of the patriotic association, and give play to the role of the patriotic association organizations as bridges and ties.
(2) Persist in the Principle of Independent and Autonomous Self-management of the Church.
1. Independent and autonomous self-management of religious affairs can continue to be carried out through the church leadership's research, routine study, holding memorial activities, editing and publishing reviews and research papers by the leadership of the CCPA and BCCCC;
2. The CCPA and BCCCC are to guide and oversee institutes of theology in establishing courses on the independent and autonomous self-management of the Church, and complete revisions to the "Teaching Materials for the Catholic Church in China's Independent and Autonomous Self-management" giving play to the positive role of the teaching materials in education and study.
3. Carry out foreign exchanges on a foundation of equality and friendship, so as to tell the story of the Catholic Church in China well, explaining the meaning and nature of the Catholic Church in China's adherence to the direction of sinification, eliminating misunderstandings and suspicions, and gaining understanding and support.
(3) Strengthen Conception and Education on Rule of Law
1. Through different formats, thoroughly study the newly revised "Regulations on Religious Affairs" at various levels, and periodically organize training on government policies and regulations, leading clergy and congregations to dedicate themselves to consciously establishing national rule of law, strengthening awareness of the state and citizenship, and correctly recognizing and handling the relationship between the state and religion.
2. Strengthen theoretical research and exploratory practices; promote Church morals and teachings that align with socialist morals and the rule of law; promote the integration of Church ethics and morality with traditional Chinese virtues, combine the spirit of the times with the requirements of social development; to give play to positive role of Catholic faith should play a positive role in governing the nation through morality.
3. Strengthen education on the rule of law in theological institutes, including it in the curriculum and offering courses such as on legal foundations', religious policies and regulations; strengthening seminarians' legal knowledge and conscious compliance with the law.
(4) Give Play to the Active Role of the Church in Promoting Economic and Social Development
1. Carry forward the Church's excellent tradition of service to society, uniting and leading clerics and congregations' to integration and service to contemporary Chinese society and fulfillment of social responsibilities.
2. In areas where church members live in concentrated communities, vigorously build healthy religious relations, jointly build public order and good customs, promote economic and social development, and build a beautiful China.
3. With the overall planning and leadership of the CCPA and the BCCCC, encourage clergy and congregations to actively participate in public interest charitable activities, highlighting key areas, increasing the level of regulation of Church public interest charitable activities and increase awareness of environmental protection.
IV. Promote the Integration of Catholicism and the Exceptional Chinese Culture
Foster cultural consciousness and self-confidence in being Chinese within the church, enrich expressions of Christian faith with our exceptional humanistic traditions; summarize experiences with sinification in the history of our nation's church, and begin research on church history from the view of the Catholic church in China.
(1) Expand the Church's Recognition and Identification with Traditional Chinese Culture
1. Use various means to increase the Church's understanding of Chinese traditional culture, build cultural consciousness and self-confidence in being Chinese, integrate Chinese traditional recognition of ethics into the spirit of Christ's gospel and promote rooting of the church's faith so it takes root in the Chinese humanities.
2. Increase the content on Chinese traditional culture in catechumen classes and catechist teachings in dioceses and parishes so that the gospel faith and Chinese traditional culture are organically integrated into the daily life of Christians.
3. Strive to cultivate a pool of research talent and theological institute faculty that have both a higher theological achievements and profound literacy in Chinese culture.
4. Emphasize the teaching of Chinese traditional culture and philosophy in arranging courses in theological institutes, cultivate seminarians' use of Chinese culture and ways of thinking to preach the church's gospel truth.
(2) Form a Chinese Catholic History that has the Chinese Church's Perspective
1. Use the establishment of Chinese Catholic historical archives as an instrument for widely collecting historical literary materials and files of the Catholic Church before and after the founding of new China; and summarize and collect the experiences with sinification formed since Catholicism was spread into China, and put together research of Church history from the perspective of the Catholic Church in China.
2. Organize experts on Church history to compile and publish "A History of the Catholic Church in China", using adherence to the direction of sinification of Catholicism as the lead.
3. Study and draw from the historical experiences of other religions in China with sinification, achieving self-improvement through comparative research.
V. Build Theological Ideology with Characteristics of the Chinese Church
Collect and research historical documents on the sinification of the Catholic Church; and, starting from the bible, church tradition, and the documents of the Second Vatican Council, absorb the relevant thought and accomplishments of the broader church to form a basic theological discourse on the sinification of Catholicism; and expand theological expression that has characteristics of Chinese thought, emphasizing the construction of research platforms and teams.
(1) Summarize the Experiences and Thought on the Sinification of the Church in Chinese Church History
1. Collect and organize documents on the sinification of Catholicism from its entry into China, especially from Catholicism's re-entry into China in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties through to the founding of new China, and summarize the process and experiences of the sinification of Catholicism.
2. Collect, organize, and summarize documents and materials on the adaptation of Catholicism to socialist society in our nation following the establishment of new China, to put together systematic consideration;
3. The CCPA and the BCCCC are to take the lead in compiling and publicshing 'Readers on Adherence to the Direction of Sinification of the Catholic Church" on the theme of adherence to the direction of sinification of Catholicism.
(2) Deeply research theological ideology on localization of the global church
1. Place great importance on biblical interpretation and biblical theology, continuously returning to the bible, drawing ideals and motivations from the bible.
2. Begin with the broader church history and traditions, especially rooted in the church discourse of the Second Vatican Council, to spread relevant information within the church.
Research and draw upon the ideological theory and practice experiences in localization of the Church in each nation following the Second Vatican Council.
(3) Innovate in Expressions of Chinese Catholic Theological Ideology
1. Carry out comparative research of Catholic theology and philosophy and Chinese philosophy and ideology, strengthen dialogue between religions, integrating Chinese people's and Christians' life experiences, enriching and innovating expressions of Church theology;
2. In addition to the metaphysical and ontological framework of the church's traditional theology, try a way of thinking with Chinese cultural characteristics, focusing on ethics, nature and harmony between man and nature, and explore a theological ideology that possesses Chinese wisdom.
3. Pay attention to the faith and spiritual experiences of the church's basic-level believers in today's society, strengthen connections between the theory and practice of sinified Catholic theology, and spread outstanding research achievements and ideas to the theological institutes and local churches.
(4) Strengthen the Church's Establishment of Theological Research Platforms and Teams
Continue to organize a bi-annual 'Theological Forum on the Sinification of Catholicism', developing new formats and striving to become the highest level theological forum for Chinese Catholicism; organizing special topic research and discussion on problems encountered in the sinification of Catholicism;
2. Establish a 'Chinese Catholic Culture Research Center' bringing together scholars from inside and outside the church to form a basic research team.
VI. Innovate forms of Church organization and management that have Chinese characteristics
Deepen the concept of running churches democratically, persist in the principle of "collective leadership, democratic management, mutual consultation, and joint decision making; and having service as the objective, and optimizing organizational management structures, strengthening awareness of organizational management, and resolving actual problems in work as the goals; advance innovations in organizational establishment, management systems, and team building.
(1) Deepen the Concept and Understanding of Democratically Running the Church
1. Through forms such as research, seminars or symposia, summarize the experiences and accomplishments of the Chinese Catholic church in democratically running the church following reform and opening, do teach democracy as an important initiative of the Catholic church in China; making democratically running the church an important method of sinifying the Catholic church.
2. Strengthen research and introductions of discussions in the Second Vatican Council related to the "People of God' and 'Ordinary Believers', giving play to the active role of ordinary believers in evangelism and church management;
3. Continue to explore the relationship between the holy ordering and the democratic management of the church, emphasizing service, and promoting the organic unification of the two.
(2) Improve Organizational and Management Systems
1. Based on the newly revised "Regulations on Religious Affairs", make revisions of the "Regulations on the Work of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association", the "Joint Meeting System of Chairmen of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China ", and the "Management System of Chinese Catholic Parish"; targeting new circumstances and problems;
2. In accordance with the principle of democratic church management, clear up duties and division of labor between the Patriotic Associations, Religious Affairs Commission, and parishes; distinguishing the character, function, and tasks of each; and drafting operating models and detailed work rules;
3. Conduct research on the current status of local Catholic Patriotic Associations and Chinese Catholic Administrative Conferences organizations, assisting in the resolution of actual problems of the Patriotic Associations in organizational construction.
4. Strengthen the legalism and regulation of church organization and management, promoting and coordinating the lawful registration and filing of church groups, church activity sites, and theological institutes with the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
5. Strengthen the force of cultivating core congregation members in patriotic organizations, increasing the ratio of core congregation members in patriotic organizations and giving play to their role in patriotic organizations.
VII. Discuss Expressions of Rites That Have Chinese Elements
Understand the traditional spirit of church rites, especially discourse on reform and localization of rites since the Second Vatican Council; and explore the possibility of blending Chinese traditional culture on rites and their elements into the expression of church rites, appropriately pushing the sinification of church rites through pilot projects.
(1) Summarize Experience in Sinfication of Church Rights in History and Practice
1. Church rites are ancient and sacred, and their natures need to be understood from theological and historical perspectives, to be an ideological foundation for considering the sinification of church rites.
2. Collect, analyze, and research the thinking and practice on rites following the Catholic church's entry into ceremonial China, clarifying the keys to sinification of Catholic rites, and acquiring inspiration for the reform or contemporary Chinese Catholic rites.
3. By holding special research seminars to summarize the gains and losses of Chinese Catholicism, including the Chinese churches, in terms of reforming rites since the Second Vatican Council advocated reforming rites, to provide new experiences for the plan to sinify church rituals.
(2) Explore Expressions of Church Rites through Chinese Cultural Etiquette
1. In the pastoral letter and a guidebook on rites that the CCPA and the BCCCC plan to release, try using some language that both conforms with the spirit of Christ's gospels and church traditions, and also has features of traditional Chinese rites, promoting exchanges on the understanding of both and their mutual enrichment.
2. In the education on rites in theological institutes, as well as in training classes and seminars on rites, increase the content on ritual Chinese culture and the history of rites, to expand understanding of traditional Chinese rites.
3. Gather researchers on church rights and hold advanced study classes to promote exploration on the sinification of the Church rites, and establish a consultative group to present a plan for the sinification of rites to the CACC and BCCCC.
4. Adjust to local conditions, paying attention to special ritual traditions in ethnic minority regions, and pulling out some already formed church rites that have minority characteristics.
(3) Steadily Promote the Sinification of Church Rites in Pilot Fashion
3. In the form of pastoral letters, the CCPA and the BCCCC are to provide general principles and suggestions on some questions on rites.
2. The CCPA and BCCCC are to guide pilot projects of rites with sinified elements in certain parishes and especially in theological institutes, and where it is determined that they are not contrary to the general principles and requirements of church rites and will not cause conflicts and disputes in the Chinese church, spread these throughout the nation;
3. Encourage some parishes and dioceses' innovative experiments with rites, respond to their needs and problems, both avoiding radical or blind reform of rites, and resisting reluctance to change.
VIII. Advocate for Church Styles, Painting, and Spiritual Music Creations That Have Chinese Aesthetics
Change the perception that church architectural styles, paintings, and sacred music must be westernized, and propose the idea of sinification; explore methods of integrating traditional Chinese aesthetics to establish church architecture, painting, and sacred music that have Chinese aesthetic characteristics.
(1) Change the idea that church architecture, painting, and sacred music must be westernized
1. Collect, organize, and research the church's heritage in terms of architecture, visual arts, and church music since Catholicism's entry into China. Combine the spiritual characteristics of the Catholic faith, and explore new Chinese forms, Chinese styles, and Chinese characteristics, to change the tendency and perception that everything must be Western.
2. Promote the idea of sinified church construction, drawing, and sacred music during education at theological institutes, setting up relevant classes and forming a shared understanding of the sinification of church arts.
3. Hold relevant lectures in parishes and diocese to enhance understanding of traditional Chinese art and aesthetics;
4. Establish examples of sinification in church architecture, painting, and sacred music, organize on-site exchange meetings, and encourage church designs and construction that combine Chinese and western styles, have traditional Chinese styles or have ethnic styles;
5. Periodically hold nationwide touring exhibitions and performances of sinified church drawing and music, commending exceptional works.
(2) Explore and accumulate methods for the sinification of church architecture, painting, and sacred music
1. Explore and collect paths and methods for sinifying church architecture, painting, and sacred music, adding Chinese aesthetic elements when designing new churches, trying traditional Chinese painting techniques in sacred are, and emphasizing Chinese styles in musical compositions;
2. Advocate the realization of the Chinese idea that man is a part of nature, both paying attention to Chinese architectural charms and also realizing the sanctity of Western church architecture; add Chinese humanistic sentiment and artistic conception to sacred works of art; and consider the natural spirit of ethnic music in works of church music;
3. While incorporating traditional Chinese cultural elements, matching the spirit of the broader Church, and meeting the requirements of Church rites, keep up with the times to advance the process of sinifying styles of Church architecture, painting and sacred music according to the principles of diversity and stability.
(3) Form assurances for the sinification of church architecture, painting, and sacred music
1. Cultivate a team of Catholic architects and artists who have a definite theological and ethical foundation and artistic gifts, and form a team of experts able to provide consultation services, and carry out relevant consultation and educational publicity work.
2. Establish a "Chinese Catholic Music and Art Training Center" based at The Chinese Catholic Theological Institute; with the CCPA and BCCCC guiding efforts to compile a collection of hymns with characteristics of Chinese Catholicism.
3. The CCPA and BCCCC are to encourage local Churches to strive for the sinification of church buildings and the creation of church paintings and sacred music; conducting pilot projects in some areas that will be expanded broadly.
IX. Organization and Implementation
(1) Strengthen Organizational Leadership
Adherence to the direction of sinification of Catholicism in our country s inseparable from effective organizational methods. The CCPA and BCCCC of the Catholic Church in China must bear primary responsibility, and set up a leading group to coordinate the exploration and realization of the sinification of Catholicism throughout the nation. Be problem-oriented, highlight a few special topics and establish expert groups to find breakthrough solutions.
The Patriotic Associations and Catholic Administration Commissions, parishes, and theological institutes of provinces (autonomous regions and directly-governed municipalities) should establish relevant mechanisms, and their responsible persons are to lead the way in promoting discussion and practice on the sinification of Catholicism, eliminating misconceptions, and persisting in putting the ideas and efforts on the sinification of Catholicism into practice. In accordance with this Plan, provincial (autonomous region, directly-governed municipality) Catholic Patriotic Associations and Catholic Administrative Commissions, each parish, and each theorlogical institute, should draft 5-year plans on the sinification of Catholicism based on their own circumstances.
(2) Strengthen oversight, inspections, and assessment of plan implementation.
In accordance with the visible targets of set by the plan, initiate special guidance and inspection efforts, periodically inspecting the completion status, finding the root of problems, and resolving them.
Follow definite assessment standards to give commendations to people and teams making prominent contributions.
(3) Strengthen Publicity and Exchange Activities
Through the CCPA and BCCCC or local church media, publicize the idea and accomplishments of the direction of sinification of Catholicism in the nation, publish relevant books and articles, creating necessary conditions for the plans' implementation.
At the CCPA and BCCCC level, use training classes, research conferences, or forums and other exchanges related to experiences and thinking on adherence to the direction of sinification of Catholicism, to unify understanding and build consensus.
Promote local Catholic Patriotic Associations and Catholic Administration Commissions, parishes, and theological institutes in periodicly holding exchange conferences for summarizing experiences in the adherence to the direction of sinification of Catholicism, promoting the idea of sinifying Catholicism throughout the lower levels of the church.
In the church's major foreign exchanges, vigorously introduce the basic thought and methods for adhering to the signification of Catholicism, gaining understanding and eliminating misunderstandings to the greatest extent possible.
(4) Strengthen the Integration and Establishment of Research Forces
The key to persisting in the direction of sinification of Catholicism lies in the formation and construction of research teams. From the very beginning, the process of the sinification of Catholicism in our country should be linked with the forging and construction of theological research teams within the Church. Deliberation on the adherence to direction of sinification of Catholicism in our nation must draw upon the research accomplishments of other religions and academia, and church research teams should draw strength from these forces.