All religious decorations and furnishings have been removed from an underground Catholic church in Henan’s Baizhuang village as a punishment for refusing to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
Established in the 19th century, the church and its parish in Shanxi’s Dongergou village was a massive draw for nearby believers and pilgrims alike. The use of the church was prohibited in July, but members of the congregation still hold mass outside it.
Hebei authorities forcefully erected a flagpole with the Chinese flag outside the church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Zhengding, the residence of Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, one the most prominent leaders of the Underground Catholic Church.
In a surreal situation of overlaps between the “patriotic” Church and the underground Church, Msgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, bishop of Wenzhou, will be re-educated for 15 days.
The communist government does not stop persecuting the Catholic Church faithful to the Pope despite the provisional agreement reached in September with the Vatican for the unification of the Chinese clergy that has given much hope.
Reports about arrested priests and closed down churches suggest that the authorities are not prepared to ease on the persecution of underground Catholic churches after the Vatican-China agreement.
A confidential document adopted by the municipal government in one of the province’s cities lists specific measures to crack down on religious liberties, including online propaganda and the promotion of “patriotic” clergy.
While many expected that the agreement between the Vatican and China would cause a conservative schism in Chinese Catholicism, in fact the first signs of a possible schism are appearing among the pro-government Patriotic Association.
Across China, government-approved and underground Catholic churches are being shut down arbitrarily and believers arrested.
Talking with journalists, the Pope claimed he was personally responsible for the agreement with China and that he will have the last word in the choice of bishops.