Beijing (AsiaNews) – Catholics and Protestants in the eastern province of Zhejiang have launched an ‘ecumenical’ campaign to make crosses – the Christian symbol par excellence – and carry them everywhere.
Launched on social media, the idea of disobeying in a legal and peaceful manner has met with great success. It is a response to a “clean-up” policy undertaken by local authorities against churches and crosses, ostensibly because Christians failed to respect building regulations.
Since 2013, when Zhejiang was designated as an area of great economic development for 2020, the authorities have launched a policy of "beautifying" the region by removing illegal structures.
Called ‘Three Rectifications and One Demolition,’ the campaign indicates the percentage of buildings to destroy, and land to be recovered for large-scale building development.
According to the provincial government, all communities and private places are touched without distinction. However, Christian sites have been its main target.
Catholics note that the first destruction orders were issued after Zhejiang party secretary Xia Baolong noted during an inspection that a church in Baiquan was too visible and an “eyesore”.
Seeing that the skyline was full of crosses, he gave the order to "rectify" it. Since then, the party has been tearing down crosses, statues and churches.
The Christian community has not taken this idly. On 24 July, Catholic bishop Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang of Wenzhou, who is almost 90, and 26 priests from his diocese protested outside government buildings to demand an end to the practice.
Some Protestant communities have prepared instead a long memorandum describing the campaign "little more than a bad joke".
Now some people are planning to make a cross in their own home. A Christian in Wenzhou posted on Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site, a picture with a group of faithful preparing wooden crosses (pictured).
A catholic priest who teaches at the Sichuan Catholic seminary, posted a similar message, calling on churches in other parts of the country to “join the relay” in the “safe and legal non-violent disobedience movement,” adding that “Tomorrow you will see crosses everywhere in Zhejiang”.