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Chinese official indicates Beijing to retain tight grip on church


People are seen at the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, China July 14. A Chinese communist party official indicated July XX that Beijing intends to retain tight grip on church. (CNS photo/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)

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HONG KONG (CNS) -- The Chinese Communist Party's top leader in charge of religion has made it clear that Beijing intends to retain a tight grip on the Catholic Church.

Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the elite seven-man Politburo Standing Committee and chair of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told members of the open church community "to ensure that the leadership of the Chinese Catholic Church is held firmly in the hands of those who love the nation and the religion," reported ucanews.com.

Yu spoke to about 100 bishops, priests, nuns and lay leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing July 19 at an event commemorating the 60th anniversary of the state-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. He made his comments amid continuing talks between Beijing and the Vatican about the normalization of the appointment of bishops, the first step in a path that could lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations.

But negotiations appear to have slowed in recent months due to an impasse over the fate of a handful of Beijing-appointed bishops.

During his speech, Yu also encouraged church leaders to "implement with self-awareness the basic direction of religious works," and "always to insist on the direction of Sinicization of religion."

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