Date: June 11, 2018
A Roman Catholic Way of the Cross in China’s Henan Province was forcibly demolished by authorities in the evening of June 5. Officials removed images of Jesus at the well-known Our Lady of Mount Carmel pilgrimage site in Tianjiajing village of the Catholic Anyang Diocese, reports UCANews. Authorities informed Bishop Joseph Zhang Yinlin of Anyang one month ago that the Way of the Cross must be dismantled. Bishop Zhang is one of the Catholic Bishops in China endorsed by both the pro-government Patriotic Association and the Vatican.
Bitter Winter has reported on continuous government crackdowns in Henan in the past few months, writing about raided or closed both house and Three-Self churches, forcible removal of religious attributes, prohibition for minors to enter churches, and anti-religious activities in Henan’s schools and even pre-schools. The suppression of religion has especially intensified since the newly revised Regulations on Religions Affairs came into force in February 2018.
The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the only Catholic pilgrimage site in Henan Province. It was ordered to be built to thank the Virgin Mary for preserving local missionaries from the dangers of Boxer persecution in 1900. It became a popular pilgrimage site for people from Henan, Hebei and Shanxi provinces, with the main celebration taking place on July 16 each year.
In 1987, the pilgrimage site was designated as illegal by Henan’s government. Since then, the government has controlled the number of people and vehicles. No more than 300 pilgrims were allowed.