Chinese Church Crackdowns

Priests and parishioners have “barricaded” themselves in a Catholic church in the Chinese province of Hebei.

According to reports, the Catholics are attempting to “prevent” the Chinese government from “tearing” down the Church.

The protest began at 6am morning at the church in “Wu Gao Zhang”, part of the Guantao district of Hebei, on the coast of northern China. Officials have ordered that the church be “destroyed” even though it is fully recognized and approved by the government. Local authorities said the building lacks “appropriate” permits.

In September 2017, China enacted strict new regulations concerning religion. Since then, authorities have been vigilant in enforcing “permit” requirements. Churches that are not found to be in compliance are destroyed.

Many Chinese Catholics say that last September’s “Sino-Vatican” Agreement has served to embolden the government to take “punitive” action against Catholics who did not belong to “state-approved” churches.

Officials have reportedly claimed that the “Vatican supports us” and have ordered an additional “40 churches” be destroyed.

For decades, the Church in China was split between the “Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association,” a state-run Church under the control of Chinese Communist Party, and the “Underground Church” that was in full communion with the Holy See.

The 2018 agreement, the details of which have not been “released” was intended to unify the two ecclesiastical communities, although multiple reports out of China have indicated that priests and laity who “refuse” to worship at government-run churches are have faced increased “persecution.”

In the provinces of Jiangxi and Fujian in eastern China, priests who refused to sign agreements binding them to regulations government have been forced out of their homes, and their churches have been closed. The Chinese government has forbidden non-compliant priests from traveling, and many have been forced to go into hiding.

In July and August, at least five Catholic churches in the Yujiang diocese were forcibly “shut down” by the government, due to their refusal to join the CPCA. In mid-August, government officials threatened to arrest an underground priest and revoke basic government subsidies to all Catholics in the city of Yingtan after their parish refused to join the state-sponsored Church.

“The government places spies in CPCA churches to specially monitor what priests say in their sermons and what activities they hold,” a priest from Yujiang reported. The Chinese government monitors the everyday activity of CPCA priests and their travel. “Basically, the state knows everything about the priests,” he added.

In September, reports emerged that churches belonging to the Chinese state-run “Three-Self Patriotic Movement” Protestant denomination have been ordered to “replace” displays of the Ten Commandments with sayings of Chinese president Xi Jinping.

The directive reportedly came after “Three-Self Churches” were initially told to remove the First Commandment, “You shall have no gods before me,” as Jinping disagreed with it.

Reports indicate that those who have refused to remove any or all of the “Ten Commandments” have been imprisoned, with leaders and worshippers “harassed” even in churches that complied with the instruction.

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