07/29/2014, 00.00
CHINA
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Wenzhou, more crosses torn down. Ningbo Cathedral burned

The faithful of the Longgang Huai En church try to bar police and to save their cross, but are put aside. Some protest with banners: "Anti-graft, anti-corruption, protect religion". Instead the fire that destroyed the interior of Jiangbei cathedral, one of the oldest Catholic churches in all of China is judged accidental.

Wenzhou (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of officers in riot gear tore down the cross of the Longgang Huai En Protestant church in Wenzhou, city of the southern province of Zhejiang. A campaign is being waged in the province against Christian places of worship and symbols: Wenzhou, once known as the "Jerusalem of China" is at the center of government persecution. Also yesterday, an accidental fire destroyed the interior of the Catholic cathedral in Ningbo: it is one of China's oldest Christian churches.  

According to the evangelical pastor Linuo Qu Wenzhou, removal of the 3-meter high cross from the Longgang church took place in a peaceful manner despite the presence of about 200 people who tried to prevent the police being set aside. The authorities claim that the cross violated the building regulations and height restrictions for private facilities and returned the cross to the congregation. Some of these were carrying placards bearing the words "Anti-graft, anti-corruption, protect religion".  

Since January 2014, the campaign "Three notices and demolition" launched by the government has resulted in the demolition of about 360 crosses or Christian buildings and the demolition of a church. According to local Christians, the campaign is a clear example of religious persecution; for the government, the initiative "targets illegal buildings, not only churches".

Meanwhile, the fire that destroyed the interior of Jiangbei cathedral in Ningbo has been judged ompletely accidental. The fire spread from the altar and in a few minutes devastated benches, objects for worship and works of art housed inside. One of the firemen who helped extinguish the fire commented: "A pity and a great loss. This church is really a beautiful building."

Built in 1872, the cathedral is one of the oldest in the entire country. In previous years, during the Maoist revolution, it was used as a clandestine meeting place by some members of the newborn Communist Party, and for this has been termed a "monument of historical importance" since the birth of modern China. This alone saved it from the destruction during the Cultural Revolution, although for a long time it was closed to Christian worship.

 

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