Chinese Buddhist nuns try to spread Christmas cheer with gift for Catholic counterparts

  • While many local authorities are clamping down on festive displays, a temple in Tianjin has reached out in a spirit of inter-faith solidarity
PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 9:55pm

While some Chinese local authorities have tried to ban Christmas, a group of Buddhist nuns in one of the country’s largest cities have got into the Christmas spirit with a gift to their Catholic counterparts.

Lianzong Temple, the only Buddhist nunnery in the northern port city, offered cabbage, rice, flour, cooking oil and other food stuffs along with 2,000 yuan (US$290) in cash to the nuns at St Joseph’s Cathedral, also known as Xikai Church.

“The living conditions of the nuns at the church are poor, but they persist in spreading the Gospel and stay devoted to charity,” the temple said in a post on Weibo.

“We are all people of faith and we will work jointly to purify hearts, promote our values and benefit all people.”

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The Buddhist nuns know those in the church well and often share things with the church at Christmas time, said a lay spokesman for the temple surnamed Ma.

“The nuns often study together and have maintained a good relationship. Our masters know their conditions well and try to help them every year,” Ma added.

Lianzong, which was built in the 1930s, has more followers than the Catholic church in the city and is better off. However, it is still short of funds at the moment because it is undergoing reconstruction work.

Christmas is not a public holiday in China, which is officially atheist, and the small minority of Christians have faced increasing restrictions on religious activity in recent years.

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In recent years many local authorities have tried to crack down on festive celebrations and Christmas-themed displays, owing in part to government fears of Western influence on Chinese society and culture.

This week it emerged that the government in Langfang in Hebei province had ordered the removal of all festive decorations and banned shops from holding Christmas displays.

A number of universities have also banned their students from celebrating the festival.