There are signs that the relationship between the Vatican and Beijing are improving, however a new campaign of persecution was launched against all Catholic churches in Hebei, China, the Vatican-affiliated Asia News reported.
The campaign, geared towards Catholic bishops and priests, aims to have all of them register in both the Catholic Patriotic Association, and the government's Religious Affairs Office who will tighten control over Catholic churches throughout Hebei.
The region of Hebei has over 1.5 million Catholics with a good majority who are not recognized by the government.
Government Officials have said to unofficial bishops, according to AsiaNews, that "from now on, all the clergy, to distribute the sacraments, must have a special membership card conceded by the government."
AsiaNews cited that the reason was so that underground churches can join together with the official churches, but the response from bishops was that they would consider accepting police pressure to register for membership cards, but they would not register with the Patriotic Association.
The bishops' refusal to participate is a result of their faith, Asia News said, the PA is an organization that serves under the Party, which monitors church activities, furthermore in their statutes it says that they want to make a national church with no ties to the Vatican.
Shortly after 1951, the relationship with the Vatican and China was severed. The Communist Party took control of the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches, and any churches that are loyal to the Pope are prohibited. All churches and congregations that violate the law are labeled as unofficial and are subjected to persecution.