The label, “Made in China!” should shout a warning to Catholics when they search in religious goods stores for Catholic religious articles. The fact that religious articles are being produced by businesses in China for global Catholics is a high illustration of our lack of concern for the Chinese government’s lack of religious tolerance and freedom among the Chinese Catholic Church. The Vatican is perpetually engaged in a diplomatic dance with the Maoist government about relaxing the rigid rules imposed on Catholicism in the People’s Republic. Usually, the results are not in the favor of faithful Catholics. The oppressive government continues to appoint Catholic bishops that are obedient to the Communist Party and in direct opposition to Rome. Only government sanctioned religious activities are permitted in Communist China, so Catholicism is operating under the auspices of a suspicious and secular minded government.

Another issue is the continued Communist China violation of human rights in Tibet. Over the past few week the Tibetan insurgents have rallied against the government’s imposition of martial law. However, the situation is clearly apparent to the Western world, that the Chinese government is intent on forcing independence and self-rule Tibetans into submission. While the Holy See continues the diplomatic efforts quietly to negotiate on behalf of Tibet, China continues to persecute and force the Vatican led movement towards an open Chinese Catholic Church out of the negotiations. The treatment of Tibetan monks and citizens is openly hostile on the part of China.

All Catholics should immediately and unconditionally boycott religious articles produced in China. The production of these articles in a country that does not permit Catholic’s or anyone else for that matter the freedom of religious expression is morally wrong.

lternative sources for products that are produced in China…for secular and religious purposes needs to be found. Incumbent with recognition as an emerging global economic presence, the world needs to hold China accountable for its record on human rights and freedom. Catholics especially should note the suffering and persecution that continues in China against the true practice of genuine Catholicism. The supply of poorly made and inferior religious trinkets makes a mockery of not only our sacred images…but also the intrinsic moral and ethical values proclaimed by all of global Catholicism.

In the United States, there should be a developing cottage industry for religious art and artisans. Taking away the production of religious devotional objects from an anti-Catholic China should be on the forefront of every Catholic pastor’s,”To-DO!”list. If indeed there is a need and a desire for religious statuary and devotional objects, Catholic parishes have a moral and ethical obligation NOT to purchase these items from a totalitarian state such as the People’s Republic of China.

We should as a Catholic presence actively pray for the successful persistence of the Catholic faith under duress, and pray for the end of Chinese Communism. In addition to the difficult task of peaceful and diplomatic relationships with Islam, the Catholic attitude towards Chinese Communism should be the same…evangelization and catechesis of the Church’s message without compromise. Another continued source of contention for the Chinese is the presence of the Olympic Games in the summer of 2008. Americans with the entire world, most especially the Catholic world should boycott these events because of the continued deteriorating record of accomplishment of human rights violations in China. China’s treatment of its indigenous peoples and those under imposed Chinese determination are not free to love and worship in a manner acceptable to our Catholic and democratic principles of life and religion. The Catholic Church should be the loudest voice in the world that condemns religious and political oppression. Americans and all countries that have fought and struggled for self-rule and determination should also join against the oppressive activities in China.

As a collective Catholic Church, we need to stop the proliferation of immoral Chinese tactics and stop any purchasing of religious articles and products from this intolerant country.

Hugh McNichol is a freelance Catholic author that writes on Catholic topics and subjects. He writes daily at http://catholicnewsagency.com , his column,”Nothing Left Unsaid!”

He also writes at http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com

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