Saturday 24 February 2018

Holy war on Christians as China cracks down

Holy war: the statues were destroyed at a Christian site of pilgrimage
Holy war: the statues were destroyed at a Christian site of pilgrimage

Tom Philips

A CITY known as China's Jerusalem has had its holy statues depicting biblical scenes destroyed, removed or "hidden" by authorities, drawing comparisons with the Cultural Revolution.

About 50 government workers sealed off Wenzhou's Longgang Hill, a site of Catholic pilgrimage, and used bricks to "hide" statues portraying moments from the Passion of Christ.

Statues of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, each weighing up to five tonnes, were "bricked around to hide them from public view" while cranes were used to remove other holy statues.

"All other religious decoration was demolished," reported UCA news, a news agency covering Catholic issues in Asia.

"About 100 Catholics who came to watch the removals were blocked at the entrance," said one witness, who asked not to be named. "Some who managed to sneak in sang hymns and prayed while watching. Some could not hold back their tears.

"The authorities' behaviour is reminiscent of the smashing of church property during the Cultural Revolution," another member of the city's Catholic community told UCA News.

The removals, news of which emerged yesterday, took place on Saturday, 48 hours before government demolition teams razed a Protestant church in the same city.

Wenzhou's Sanjiang church became a symbol of resistance to the Communist Party's religious policies in early April.

Thousands of Christians formed a human shield around the place of worship after plans to demolish it were announced, but the building was eventually levelled on Monday evening.

Christians accuse Communist Party leaders in Zhejiang province of attempting to slow their faith's rapid growth by destroying churches deemed too "conspicuous".

A list compiled by Christian activists and shown to 'The Daily Telegraph' this week names more than 20 churches that are facing or have already suffered some form of demolition work. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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