Heaven and Humans Are One

The Witness of the Chinese Catholic Ministry in a Global Context

by Bit-shing Abraham Chiu (Author)
©2015 Monographs 94 Pages
Series: American University Studies , Volume 344


When religious and political leaders debate the question of establishing diplomatic relations between the Vatican and China, they frequently misunderstand that religious relation inevitably intertwines with politics. For instance, the Vatican has to terminate any diplomatic relation with Taiwan if reconciliation is to be considered between the Vatican and the Chinese Catholic Church (CCC). Religious relation, nevertheless, exceeds this conditional requirement. This book opens a window to globalization of the CCC, though for its survival, it still has to shelter under the umbrella of the Beijing government. There is in fact a bridge to connect the Vatican and the CCC in a religious way, i.e., communion and inclusiveness. The ministry of the Chinese Catholic Spiritual Center, thus, is to create possible channels for mutual understanding between the two. The author raises a crucial question whether the Vatican would separate the political management from religious leadership in order that new hope for reconciling the Vatican to the CCC through religious communion can be prospected.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: A Tooth for a Tooth (以牙還牙): The Separation of China and the Vatican–a Historical Analysis
  • Christ or Culture: Friends or Enemies?
  • Struggle of Christ and Culture in China–Factors Leading to Separation
  • Political Factors of the Separation
  • Religious Factors of the Separation
  • The Reason of Being “Underground”: The Struggles of Two Models
  • Christ and Culture
  • The Synthesis of Christ and Culture
  • Synthesists
  • Summary
  • Chapter Two: The River Does Not Cross over Well Water (河水不犯井水): Tensions among Three Empires
  • The Catholic Church as a Kyriarchy (from Ekklesia to “Ad Sinarum Gentem“)
  • Ekklesia
  • Household in General
  • Household in China
  • Ad Sinarum Gentem (October 7, 1954)
  • Empire in the Book of Revelation and Religious Persecution in China
  • The Roman Empire in the Book of Revelation
  • Conflicts between Two “Empires” and Religious Persecution in China
  • How Does the Unofficial/Underground Church Envisage “Empire” in Relation to the Vatican?
  • Summary
  • Chapter Three: Heaven and Humans Are One (天人合一): A Vision of Inclusive Oneness of China and the Vatican
  • Basic Differences between Christianity and Confucianism.
  • Inclusive Oneness in China?
  • Before the Cultural Revolution
  • During the Cultural Revolution
  • After the Cultural Revolution
  • Inclusive Oneness in Christ
  • Oneness in the Bible
  • Oneness in Theology
  • Summary
  • Chapter Four: Let the Hundred Flowers Bloom (百花齊放): Reconciling Ministry of The Chinese Catholic Spiritual Center (CCSC)
  • Refiguring Christ: From the CCSC to a New Paradigm.
  • The CCSC: A Community of Incarnational Model in the Process of Refiguring Christ in the Catholic Church
  • The Possibility of Refiguring Christ in China
  • Reconstructing the Church: Reconciling Ministry of the CCSC as a New Paradigm for the Chinese Catholic Church
  • Summary
  • Epilogue
  • Bibliography

← 8 | 9 → FOREWORD

For over a half of a century the Vatican and the government of China have had a seriously strained relationship. Both of these authoritarian governments have strong positions on the relationship of church and state. The Vatican still maintains that it has the right to name the leaders of the Catholic Church while the Chinese government wants some say over the appointment of bishops. The Chinese government does not recognize this right of the Vatican, viewing the Catholic Church as a foreign power. Because of this strained relationship two entities of Catholicism have developed in China: the so called Underground Church with allegiance to Rome and an official or Patriotic Church that is under the control of the Chinese government. There appears to be no end in sight for this impasse.

Much has been written over the years about the Catholic Church in China and its struggles with the Chinese government. In this work Abraham Chiu Bit-shing has considerably clarified the situation. Fr. Abraham is well suited to contribute to this literature. He is both an academic and an active participant in Chinese ministries. As an academic he brings knowledge of religion, including Confucianism, theology, and history. As a participant he has taught courses in Chinese seminaries both online and in person as well as worked with Chinese Catholic communities in China, Hong Kong, and the United States. His belief, based on his experience and academic study, leads him to propose a helpful solution to the problem at least at the level of theory.

In this book Fr. Abraham reviews the history of the split between the Vatican and the Chinese government. Secondly, he compares the theology or ideology of both parties to the dispute. He then proposes a vision of how the two sides may be reconciled. Fr. Abraham believes that both Christian theology and Confucianism have a spirit through which the two sides can be reconciled. His final task is an arduous one: reconciling the Vatican with the Chinese government. He proposes a model for doing this through the Chinese Catholic Spiritual Center (CCSC), which he founded in the United States.

From a theological perspective, Fr. Abraham favors a synthesis of faith and Chinese culture. The synthesis exists first of all in the notion of “kyriarchal empire” which is shared by both entities. At a second level he argues that both Christianity and Confucianism, despite their differences, have inclusive elements on which a serious dialogue can be established.

Readers will find that this book provides helpful insight into a complex situation. This work manifests great care in treating the valuable sources that can be used to for understanding and working for a solution to the conflict.

John L. Elias, EdD, Emeritas

Professor Religion and Education

Fordham University, New York

Fall, 2014


The reputation of the Doctor of Ministry Program of Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) attracts me, like flowers to bees. My desire of pursuing a higher academic study of ministry grew since I finished my STL degree at Louvain, Belgium in 1994.

China has been casting itself on the international political stage, and it is ready to open up to the whole world as several international events have been held in China in particular the Olympic Games 2008. A window to religions is simultaneously open. It is because of this deep concern for the future of the Chinese Catholic Church that I decided to specialize in the study of ministry. With this academic study of ministry, I will be able to serve the Chinese Catholic Church with missio Dei because I have been lecturing in various seminaries and dioceses in China since 1996.

I wish to express my gratitude to all those who have contributed, in one way or another, to my studies in EDS. First and foremost, I wish to thank my advisor, Dr. Kwok Pui-lan, who has labored with me throughout the whole time of my research and meticulously read my text. My heartfelt thankfulness, particularly, goes to the Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas for the intensive reading of the text. My sincere thanks also go to all the professors, both EDS and Harvard Divinity School (HDS), who inspired my studies by their good examples and hard works. To the staffs of the secretariat and the library, to all who have shared their time and warm friendship with me at EDS and HDS, I owe my deep gratitude.

I wish to remember in a special manner Rev. Capistran Polga, O.F.M. who has read my manuscript and suggested stylistic improvements of my English. I would also want to thank my family and friends for their support, here and there, especially Bridget Lo of Germany, Joseph Lo of the United Kingdom, Rev. Dr. Peter Shen, Audra and Paul Tong, Hansel Wan, Lucy Shum, Rita Sam, Rev. Emery Tang, O.F.M., Friar Juniper Capace, O.F.M. of the United States; and those who are in Hong Kong: Dr. Anthony Chan, Rev. Dr. Thomas Kwan, Dr. Janet Lee, Peter Wan, and Simon Yip. Their encouragement is like charcoal to snowy days (雪中送炭).

Special gratitude is due to the Chinese Catholic Spiritual Center and all my previous students in China, for without their spiritual and financial support; I would not have successfully finished my doctoral studies in EDS, Boston.

Deo gratias et Mariae!

Chiu Bit-shing Abraham

← 11 | 12 → Fall, 2014



ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (March)
religious relation politics globalization
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 94 pp.

Biographical notes

Bit-shing Abraham Chiu (Author)

Bit-Shing Abraham Chiu has been serving the Chinese Catholic Church by teaching theology in major seminaries and conducting retreats in various dioceses since 1996. He earned his doctoral degree of ministry from Episcopal Divinity School, Boston, where he was awarded the best paper prize. He earned his Ph.D. degree from the School of Religious Education, Fordham University, New York. His enriched teaching experience and quality academic formation foster the creation of this book.


Title: Heaven and Humans Are One