The Catholic Henan Regional Seminary is an essential part of the province’s religious and cultural heritage; authorities recently forcibly demolished the entrance to the seminary.
Bitter Winter has recently learned that at 6 a.m. on April 27, 2018, claiming the building was an “unapproved construction project,” the local government assembled nearly 70 individuals from the Urban Construction Bureau, the Urban Administrative Enforcement Bureau, the local police, and other departments and dispatched them at the Catholic Henan Regional Seminary. Squad cars patrolled the roads, prohibiting anyone from entering, whether in vehicles or on foot. Working around the clock for three days, two large excavators completely demolished the Henan Regional Seminary’s entrance and its cross. Agriculture and Forestry School for Communist Party cadres and a building belonging to a manufacturer of biological pharmaceuticals, standing nearby, were destroyed and reduced to rubble.
The Catholic Henan Regional Seminary was located on Yangweipu Street in the Dongjiao of Kaifeng city, Henan. It was constructed in 1930, funded by the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith of Roman Curia, and shut down in 1958. It was once a high-ranking religious academy for educating Catholic clergy, and its church once held great esteem and fame in the country. The building was considered an important religious and cultural heritage site in Henan. The demolished entrance was a later extension to the building.
An elderly resident, over 90-years-old, recounted that during World War II, the Regional Seminary provided asylum to civilians escaping persecutions by the invading Japanese. “As long as you stood up against the wall of the seminary church, the Japanese wouldn’t kill you.” And yet, this symbolic building could not escape the suppression of religions by the current Communist Party government.
Since the new Regulations on Religious Affairs came into force in February this year, Henan authorities have been demolishing churches and tearing down crosses across the province and cracking down on religious congregation sites, destroying or painting over all symbols with distinguishing religious characteristics.
Reported by Jiang Tao
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Jiang Tao (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), aged 42, is from Henan Province. He previously served as a magazine editor and has long been concerned about vulnerable groups that are being persecuted in China. He has written a variety of commentaries probing human rights issues in China, and his articles have been published in international journals. After leaving his magazine job in 2015, he started visiting and interviewing persecuted religious groups and other vulnerable groups and gathering information about incidents. He joined Bitter Winter in 2018, and since then is dedicated to reporting the persecution incidents in Henan, Shanghai, Anhui, and other regions.