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China may ban Catholics from 2008 Olympics

 China's Ministry of Public Security has issued a directive listing 43 categories of 'unwanteds' who are to be investigated and may be barred from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Falun Dafa Information Centre reports. The banned groups will include members of religious groups not sanctioned by the state, including the underground Catholic and other Christian churches; "key individuals in ideological fields," "counter-revolutionary" figures, the Dalai Lama and all affiliates, "individuals who instigate discontentment toward the Chinese Communist Party through the Internet," and certain types of "handicapped" persons. Members of the indigenous religious group Falun Gong would be barred, as would "family members of deceased persons" killed in "riots" -- a euphemism for events such as the Tiananmen Massacre -- and Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, which the regime brands "national separatists." Foreign athletes, members of the media, Olympic staff members, referees, sponsors, dignitaries, and the International Olympic Committee itself, will all be investigated, to determine whether they fall into any of the 43 categories. According to AsiaNews, up to 50 Roman Catholic bishops and priests are in prison or otherwise prevented from carrying out their ministry in China. In theory Chinese law guarantees a degree of religious freedom, but the Communist government forbids all worship outside state-backed "patriotic" religious groups which it effectively controls. China broke links with the Vatican soon after the Communists took sole control of the country. During the 1950's the government expelled foreign clergy and established its own state approved "Catholic church", the China Patriotic Catholic Association, which pledges loyalty to Beijing rather than the Pope. Despite continual harassment and arrest of its priests and members, the Roman Catholic Church in China claims an estimated eight million worshippers, double the total for the government approved body. Source: FDIC/CSW