Editor’s Note: This is horrible news from China.
Beijing (Agenzia Fides) – From today, May 23, 2023, the “online” verification system for the identity of Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant religious has also been launched. The same system, as Agenzia Fides reports (see Fides 24/2/2023), had already been activated on February 22 to verify the identity of Buddhist and Taoist monks. The system is an “online file” containing the identification data of all the religious figures of the various communities (Buddhist and Taoist monks, Muslim imams, Catholic priests, Protestant pastors) registered with the Chinese apparatuses, which can also be consulted by citizens who will now be able to check “online” the identity and position of each registered individual.
The legally registered Islamic, Catholic, and Protestant Christian religious data consultation tool, which can be consulted on the Internet, offers seven pieces of information about each registered person, including name, gender, religious title, religious denomination, and registration identification number. The personal file of each individual registered is accompanied by his photo. Users of the online file can search after entering the verification code of their mobile phone and photo, and after fulfilling the search criteria of the system. The information search system is available on the official websites of the Islamic Association of China, the Chinese Catholic Church, the Chinese Christian Council, and the State Administration of Religious Affairs. These organizations will update registrant data in a timely manner to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information.
According to Xinhua, China’s official news agency, the new online file is a useful tool for “maintaining normal religious order, safeguarding healthy transmission” of religious content, and at the same time it would also help Chinese believers of different faith communities to identify false monks, imams, priests, pastors and bishops, “thereby protecting the public interest and the legitimate rights and interests of citizens”. In recent years – reads the dispatch from the official Chinese agency – there have allegedly been several cases of people who have tried to make a profit by fraudulently claiming a false monastic identity and who, in doing so, have “seriously discredited the image of the religious community, while disturbing public order, damaging the health, economic resources and property of citizens, with an extremely negative social impact”.
SOURCE (Agenzia Fides, 23/5/2023) Published with permission.