The Catholic Central Bureau: A Short-lived Church Authority set up around the Time of the Communist Takeover of China

Yee Ying Bibiana Wong


The Catholic Central Bureau was a Church administrative body set up in 1947 by Antonius Riberi, the Apostolic Internuncio to China who assumed office after the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the resumption of the Nationalist-Communist Civil War. The purpose of launching the CCB was to unify and coordinate the missionary work of over one hundred dioceses around the country. Less than two years later, the Communist Party took over China and began the Anti-Imperialist Patriotic Movement among Christians. It accused the CCB of being a reactionary organization that sheltered imperialists to conduct espionage activities. In 1951, the police suspended the CCB and arrested its key members. The CCB was the first nationwide ecclesiastical organization under the Chinese Church hierarchy, and the precursor of Chinese Regional Bishops Conference. Its destiny gives us a picture of church-state conflicts in the early years of Communist rule. From scarce and scattered resources, this essay narrates the CCB’s four-year course with a special focus on its nature and purposes. We discuss if it was inevitable that the CCB and the Church in China suffered persecution due to a clash between the Vatican’s anti-Communist stance and the Chinese Communist Party’s leftist ideology.


Catholic Central Bureau; Christianity under Communism; Church-state relations; Pope Pius XII; Triple Autonomy Patriotic Movement

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