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Organizational Revivalism: Explaining Metamorphosis of China’s Catholic Church

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The classical works of Troelsch and Niebuhr suggested that sect movements had been the origin of reform and revitalization of the church. More recently, Finke and Wittberg supplemented that thesis by suggesting that the Catholic Church was able to reform itself not through the sect development, but through the establishment of religious orders within the Catholic Church itself. This article suggests, from historical and contemporary archival sources, that the revitalization of the Catholic Church in China was through indigenization of the Church. The vitalization has been achieved despite tensions between the underground church committed to Rome and the national church, which advocated self-government without political and financial ties to the Catholic hierarchies outside China. Both the Chinese government’s accommodation of the ecclesiastical authority of the papacy, and the Vatican’s silence in response to the underground church’s pleas to disregard the national church, had helped the indigenization process and the growth of the church without a possible schism.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Illinois at Chicago 2: Hong Kong Lingnan University, and Director of Research, Hong Kong Catholic Archdiocese

Publication date: 2002-03-01

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