Shànghǎi’s Christians

Christianity is the fastest-growing faith in China, and Shànghǎi alone has at least 140,000 Catholics, largely due to its history of Jesuit communities. St Ignatius Cathedral is the largest church in the city proper but Shěshān Basilica, in the suburbs, is even larger. Relations between the government and the Holy See are uneasy, as the state-run overseeing Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association does not acknowledge the authority of the Vatican and appoints its own bishops. China’s one-child policy does not sit well with the Catholic stand on abortion either. For these reasons, the Vatican maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan, much to China’s consternation.

To see or take part in prayer, Catholics can visit the Christ the King Church in the French Concession, St Ignatius Cathedral or the splendid Catholic Church in Qībǎo. Protestants can visit the lively Community Church, near South Wulumuqi Rd in the French Concession, which has a Sunday school for children and a small nursery for toddlers. There is also a growing flock of modern, newly built churches throughout Shànghǎi, including in Pǔdōng. Other historic Catholic churches can be found in Zhūjiājiǎo and Hángzhōu.