The Catholic Church’s Role in the African Diaspora in Guangzhou, China

  • Shanshan Lan


The Catholic Church in China today (encompassing government-approved and non-registered churches) faces challenges as diverse as the local communities it seeks to serve. The Sacred Heart Cathedral in Guangzhou presents a particularly interesting case of a g overnment-approved church serving multiple communities simultaneously. Balancing the needs of these communities—the Chinese Catholic community, expatriate and immigrant groups, particularly African migrants, the Church leadership—and the requirements of the local Chinese government, calls for sensitivity, adaptability, and a measure of openness to new forms of community participation. Due to the paradoxes and ambiguities in China’s religious policy, Catholic churches in China today enjoy relative autonomy from government control. However, underground church leaders continue to be arrested and persecuted from time to time. As a government-sanctioned or open church, the Sacred Heart Cathedral (also known as the Yide Lu church) has to struggle to maintain a balance between religious autonomy and loyalty to the party-state. This chapter examines how the recent influx of African migrants in the church has both highlighted and obscured some of the tensions in church-government relations.


Chinese Government Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Religious Freedom Undocumented Migrant African Migrant 
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© Cindy Yik-yi Chu 2014

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  • Shanshan Lan

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