Catholic villages

Catholic villages
While rural Catholicism has provided a source of continuity for the Chinese Catholic Church through difficult times of persecution, it has also been a source of change: villagers have adapted many Catholic practices to better fit Chinese culture. While many key Catholic institutions (hospitals, universities, publishing houses) have been located in the cities, especially prior to 1949, rural Catholic strongholds have provided the clergy (priests and sisters) and the most active parishioners for the Chinese Church. There are Catholic villages scattered throughout the Chinese countryside; in many cases all the villagers are nominally Catholic, but in others Catholics make up only part of a village population (perhaps a lineage in a multi-lineage village, or lineage segment in a uni-lineage village). Catholic missionary strategies were especially well suited for the rural setting because of their emphasis on family, as opposed to individual, conversion (the latter being the historical strategy of Protestant missionaries). Many Catholic villages were actually established by missionaries, who bought land for their converts; these Catholic villages are unusual in the countryside because they may contain twenty or thirty different surname groups (as opposed to the more typical village, which consists of only one or two lineages).
In the countryside, family ties and ritual events maintain village solidarity and provide for wider social networks, and Catholicism has adapted to meet these social needs. For example, while non-Catholic villagers use calendrical rituals such as the Qingming Festival (communal celebration of the ancestors) and the Chinese New Year Festival (chunjie) to bring scattered family members together, Catholic villages use All Soul’s Day and Christmas for similar gatherings. Rural Catholic practices have also found a way to incorporate the ancestors, through Masses for the Deceased and Catholic funerary ritual, while the church provides a focal meeting place for Catholic villagers in lieu of an ancestral hall (see ancestral halls/lineage temples).
See also: Catholicism; Document 19 (1982)
Lozada, Eriberto P (2001). God Aboveground: Catholic Church, Postsocialist State, and Transnational Processes in a Chinese Village. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Madsen, Richard (1998). China’s Catholics: Tragedy and Hope in an Emerging Civil Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Tang, Edmond and Wiest, Jean-Paul (eds) (1993). The Catholic Church in Modern China: Perspectives. Maryknoll: Orbis Books.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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