To make all Catholics join the state-run church, CCP continues to intimidate clergy and believers, shuts down charitable organizations.
by Ye Ling
In its nationwide offensive to force Catholic conscientious objectors to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), the CCP is shutting down noncompliant churches, retaliates against the clergy and congregations who refuse to become part of the state-run church. As per new reports, believers are also prohibited from organizing memorial services for deceased “rebellious” priests, and charitable organizations, set up by churches that are not under government’s control, are suppressed.
Banned from paying tribute to a deceased priest
September 3 marked the second anniversary of the death of Father John Wang Zhongfa, one of the vocal Catholic conscientious objectors in Cangnan county under the jurisdiction of Wenzhou city in the eastern province of Zhejiang. That day, hundreds of local believers were on the way to the gravesite of Father John Wang for a commemorative Mass but were intercepted and dispersed by the local authorities.
According to eyewitnesses, more than 100 police officers blocked all intersections leading to the cemetery with cars, prohibiting believers from getting to Father John Wang’s gravesite. They threatened to destroy his tomb if the believers refused to leave.
A local believer told Bitter Winter that before his death, Father Wang had been constantly suppressed and put under surveillance for refusing to join the CPCA. HD cameras have been installed in his church, and personnel were sent to monitor him in the hospital where he was treated for his illness. On the day of his funeral, the police cordoned off the area surrounding the cemetery to control the number of believers attending the procession.
“The government’s persecution is even more frenzied than in the past years. Believers are prohibited from attending the memorial ceremony for the priest as if the government is afraid that it’ll be difficult to control united believers,” a local priest commented. “The CCP’s tyranny is unpopular, but it won’t feel at ease until it puts all people under its control.”
Octogenarian priest pressured to join CPCA
According to a churchgoer from Mindong Diocese in the southeastern province of Fujian, in October, officials from the county-level city of Fuan, administered by Ningde city, launched a full-on campaign to coerce an octogenarian priest, ill with cancer, to join the CPCA by threatening to wreck his home and dismiss his family members from their posts.
The priest did not compromise, as he believes that it is against his conscience to join the state-administered church.
Seeing his determination, officials changed their tactics and tried to lure him by promising money, but the priest refused again. He said he would instead go to jail even when government representatives sought to make him sign the agreement to join the CPCA using force.
“The Communist Party is the devil. If you sign to join the CPCA, the government will demand you to raise the national flag and sing the national anthem before each Mass, order you to hang a portrait of Mao Zedong in the church,” an elderly believer from the diocese told Bitter Winter. “Every article of the new Regulations on Religious Affairs restricts our beliefs. It is obvious that by doing so, the CCP aims to ultimately eliminate all religions and force people to believe in communism only.”
Orphanage shut down
Catholic charitable organizations have also become targets of the suppression campaign. Among the recent victims is “Belloni Love School,” an orphanage for the disabled, founded by a Catholic Church in Yongnian county under the jurisdiction of Handan city in the northern province of Hebei.
As per informed sources, more than 30 local government and Public Security Bureau employees stormed into the orphanage on October 21 and looted all equipment and furniture. They claimed that the order to close down the orphanage came from the provincial government. Officials ordered to cut off electricity and gas supply to the orphanage and locked its gate, prohibiting anyone from entering.
According to a local believer, the orphanage was registered with the county’s Industry and Commerce Administration. It was also designated by the city’s Disabled Persons’ Federation as a “Provincial Service Site of Voluntary Assistance for People with Disabilities.” Since its founding, the orphanage was widely praised by people; multiple reports about its activities were published in the local media.
The believer also revealed that the orphanage was shut down mainly because the priest in charge of the church was unwilling to join the CPCA. The priest was reportedly forced to go into hiding to avoid arrest.