Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 13, 2018
On May 11, the Communist Party police raided a Catholic church in Helong town, Nong’an County, Changchun city, Jilin Province, and arrested nine nuns. Since the raid, the church, which is part of the so-called “Underground” Catholic Church loyal to the Vatican, is under surveillance, and the congregation remains unable to attend services there.
At 10 a.m., the nuns were ringing bells on the church’s second floor before entering the church to read the scripture. Suddenly, eight officers from the Helong Township police station burst in shouting that this was an illegal assembly. They then arrested all nine nuns and took them to the station in a police van. A box of religious books in the church was also confiscated.
At the station, the officers questioned each of the nuns in turn and took detailed notes about them, their contact information, and their beliefs. They also took their fingerprints and filmed them. When members of the church heard the nuns had been arrested, they called in every favor they could trying to rescue them. At 8 o’clock that night, the nuns were released. “When you go back you cannot hold any more religious assemblies. If you do, we’ll arrest you again!” threatened the police as the nuns left.
According to Sister Lan He, following the nuns’ arrest, tables and stools used during services and the Church’s Eucharist were forcibly removed. Police officers came to the church a few times to harass the nuns and check on them and left only after making sure that the church was not organizing any more services. Another nun, Mia, told Bitter Winter that, on May 25, the police called her to ask questions about the church’s founder, Han Jingtao, who is 97 years old, has been arrested three times and spent 30 years in prison for his belief.
Two of the arrested nuns were forced to leave Jilin Province and return to their hometowns. The police continue to closely monitor the church, which has brought its life to a halt: priests and deacons are unable to hold mass in the church, and the congregation has no way of attending services.