Wenzhou (AsiaNews) – Five days after 90-year-old Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang of Wenzhou led 26 priests of the open Church community to protest against the government’s act to demolish Crosses, Coadjutor Bishop James Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou also led his priests to issue an open statement “Strongly demand a halt to demolish Crosses on all churches,” today, July 29.
Coadjutor Bishop Shao now goes from parish to parish, and prays with parishioners for the halt of the forced demolition of Crosses. Parishioners are fasting for the purpose.
The underground clergy’s move followed Bishop Zhu and the priests from the open Church who issued an open statement to all citizens in China and all Catholics in China titled “Shout! Stop to be silent” on July 18.
The open Church priests said they tolerated all the demolitions of Crosses and prayed that the authorities would stop but they are now tearing down Crosses without any respect to law and religion. The Cross is the symbol of the Church, “we have to protect our freedom of religion and our right to believe”, the open Church statement said.
A Church source of Wenzhou diocese told AsiaNews: “Two more Crosses were demolished at dawn even after our demonstration. At least 10 more churches are notified of the demolition in the coming days. We are saddened and crying,” he said.
The source noted that Catholics in the whole diocese are taking turns “to fast in relay” and hope that Catholics from in and outside China will support them.
Similarly, in the statement signed by Bishop Shao and 22 priests from the underground community, it states:
Meanwhile, since the demonstration and march on July 24, Bishop Yang Xiangtai of Handan and illicitly ordained Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu of Mindong issued messages expressing their support to the Wenzhou clergy’s brave act.
A priest from Xi’an (Shaanxi) and Xiangtan (Hunan) also decried injustices done to the Catholic Church, and called for solidarity in prayers for the suffering of the Wenzhou Church and all Catholics in China.