» 08/04/2014, 00.00
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
For Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.
(AsiaNews) - Bishop Zhu Weifang of Wenzhou (Zhejiang) and his priests in the
open Church side have openly denounced the Zhejiang government's brutal
acts of forced demolitions of churches and stripping off crosses from Catholic
and Protestant churches in the province.
who has papal mandate and works openly, issued a pastoral letter on July 30
calling his faithful "not to fear but have faith". On the following day, July
31, his priests urged the Zhejiang provincial government to stop the campaign
of forcibly knocking knock down crosses on church roofs.
wave of destructions of churches and crosses in Zhejiang province, especially
against Christian Churches in Wenzhou, has been going on for months.
Protestants and Catholics were injured while fending off police to tear down
churches and crosses.
Zhu issued the pastoral letter, local Catholics were dissatisfied with Bishop
Zhu, 87, for reacting slowly on this matter.
in his pastoral letter, admitted that "he was not in time to console, encourage
and strengthen their faith", felt sorry and asked his priests and faithful for
He said the
campaign surprised him and made him feel perplexed. He said he was quiet
because he thought the campaign would soon be over. This policy of demolition
of churches was "wrong and unjust" because even "buildings without violations"
were destroyed. He noted that the policy "targets crosses on church-roofs, a
sign of Christian faith." This intensified the tension between the Church and
the government and
caused bloodsheds, he noted. This upsets the religion-state harmony and
arouses social instability. The campaign seems to be intensified, he noted.
urged his flock to pray for the plight of the diocese, by offering a rosary
each day and a prayer of the Way of the Cross every Friday. Prayers in groups
are encouraged for parishes that suffered severely. "We pray that those who
persecute us will change," he said.
priests' petition on July 31, they strongly urged the Zhejiang government to
stop the demolition campaign. They admitted some churches exceeded their
approved limits, but insisted the construction procedures were in accord with
the law. They questioned which law or regulation states that it is illegal to
put up a cross on the church roof; which regulation states that only one cross
on one church is allowed in an designated area.
construction costs of churches came from donations by the local Catholics, the
faithful have lost confidence in the government, the petition said.
priests strongly urged the Zhejiang government to "respect the Catholic Church,
respect our sacred and inviolable crosses, and respect Catholics' religious
asked the authorities to stop the whole campaign of demolitions of churches and
crosses. "Do not destroy democracy, harmony and social stability. Do not let
your stupid acts be teased in history," they warned.
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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.
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