Across China, government-approved and underground Catholic churches are being shut down arbitrarily and believers arrested.
On September 22, the Vatican and the Chinese government signed an interim agreement regarding the appointment of bishops. While the specific content of the deal is still unknown, many feared that it would force Chinese Catholics to join the official church in China.
Some analysts claim that the Vatican became a party to the agreement to give a developmental boost to Catholicism in China, but the simultaneous persecution of Chinese Catholics, while the negotiations were taking place, cannot be denied as well.
Bitter Winter is receiving reports Catholic meeting venues being shut down across the country. At the beginning of June, the police raided upon a Catholic meeting place in Tianshi town of Dazhou city in Sichuan. Eight believers, aged 60 to 80, were arrested as well.
On May 25, another Catholic church in Liushan town of Hubei’s Chibi city was shut down. It was a government-approved church, and the believers had raised 430,000 RMB or 61,000 USD on their own to build it.
Meanwhile, earlier the same month, authorities simply posted a shutdown notice outside a village church in Henan’s Ruzhou city. Another venue in Baisi town of the province’s Hebi city too was shut down. Fed up with the repeated harassment by the police, the believers eventually stopped assembling at the venue where over 300 would attend on holidays. Meetings are still held there but in secret.
In Heilongjiang’s Jiamusi city, the police raided a meeting place and detained its pastor in March. It is understood that the authorities had previously demanded that the pastor joined the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, but he refused every time.
Reported by Yao Zhangjin