Emperor Yong Zheng Banned Catholicism (1722)

    Emperor Yong Zheng Banned Catholicism (1722)

    A Portrait of Yong Zheng

    Another Portrait of Yong Zheng

    During Emperor Kang Xi's reign, he tried to ban Catholicism but wasn't successful at all. In December of 1722, Yong Zheng became the third Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. He immediately initiated a large-scale movement of deporting missionaries in China. In the beginning of 1723, the Catholic missionary of Fujian asked followers to repair the church building and received criticisms from the public. A judge of Fujian, Fu Zhi paid a personal visit to the church, banning the reconstruction and was confronted by the angry Catholic followers. In June of the same year, the Governor of Fujian ordered Fujian's missionary to be deported to Macao. Judge Huang Guocai and the Governor of Fujian, reported the incident to Emperor Yong Zheng and requested him to instate a law of deporting all missionaries from China. On November 7th, the second year of Yong Zheng's reign, he passed a law deporting all missionaries. Most of the missionaries were forced to leave China for Macao, and a lot of churches were modified to become town halls, schools or warehouses. Some were even torn down. Followers were banned from becoming Catholics again. During this period, Catholicism was outlawed in China. In 1729, Emperor Yong Zheng ordered to track down all missionaries who were still hiding in China. There were only about 20 missionaries who were allowed to stay, but they were not allowed to preach in China. The ban on Catholicism showed a continued conflict between the old Chinese customs (Confucianism and ancestor worship) and the new Christian movement.

    When asked to be nice to the Catholics, Emperor Yong Zheng once replied, 'You (Catholics) wish that all the Chinese would become Catholics. I do understand this is your dogma. But let's consider what will happen to us. Do we not all become the subjects of your Pope? My people will listen to you instead, if we are under attack (by the West).' Traditionally, Chinese were taught to respect their parents, elders (or ancestors) and be loyal to the king. The concept of aking the Chinese to be loyal to the Pope did not sit well with Yong Zheng and/or the Qing Dynasty.

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