Chinese Catholics barricade themselves in church to prevent demolition

Beijing, China, Nov 1, 2019 / 09:07 am (CNA).- 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 Thursday 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. According to the website AsiaNews, local authorities have said the building lacks appropriate permits.

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

According to AsiaNews, 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 to the magazine Bitter Winter. The Chinese government monitors the everyday activity of CPCA priests, their travel.

“Basically, the state knows everything about the priests,” he added.

Chinese persecution of religious minorities has been the focus of sustained international scrutiny. The country is estimated to have imprisoned millions of Uighur Muslims, and is leading human rights groups have reported to the United Nation that political dissidents and  imprisoned religious minorities have been subjected to organ harvesting for use in the country’s organ trade.

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 Xinping.

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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  1. Can the laity of the western world do anything? Is there a path open for us to do something, in addition to the obvious answer of prayer, to aid the survival of the Church in China? And is Church leadership in Rome having second thoughts yet about the wisdom of the accord made with Chinese leadership?


    …How to stop Communism? Pray the Rosary.


    The Power of Prayer
    In 1946, a Franciscan priest named Petrus Pavlicek made a pilgrimmage to Mariazell, Austria’s main Marian shrine. There, he prayed that Austria might be freed from the Communists. As he knelt in prayer, he heard a voice in his mind. The heavenly voice told him that if he prayed the rosary Austria would have peace. In 1947, Fr. Pavlicek founded the Crusade of Reparation of the Holy Rosary. Through the Crusade, Austrians joined in a round-the-clock Rosary. They prayed for the conversion of sinners, world peace, and a free Austria. Thousands of people joined the crusade. Every month the number of crusaders grew. By 1955, a half-million Austrians, more than 7 percent of the country, had pledged to pray the daily Rosary.

    Austria is Free after Ten Years of “Liberation.”

    On March 24, 1955, the Soviets invited the Austrian Prime Minister, Julius Raab, to a meeting in Moscow. Believing that Austria’s future would be sealed at the meeting, Raab spoke with Fr. Pavlicek. “Please pray, and ask your people to pray harder than ever.”

    Though it had never done so, and never would do so again, in April, the Soviet Union announced that it would withdraw its troops from Austria. On May 15, 1955, Austria signed a peace treaty with the Allies. Austria was once again a self-governing nation. By the end of October, the last Soviet soldier left Austria. Ten years after it had been “liberated,” Austria was free.

    In Vienna, a huge crowd marched procession. They carried rosaries and a statue of Our Lady of Fatima who had delivered Austria from the Communists. From the balcony of the capital building, Prime Minister Raab offered a prayer of thanksgiving. “Today, we, whose hearts are full of faith, cry out to Heaven in joyful prayer: We are free, O Mary, we thank thee!” Every year since then, thousands of Austrians gather in Vienna to thank Our Lady for the gift of freedom granted through her intercession.

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