Chinese Catholics try to stop the demolition of their church in Changzhi, Shanxi (VIDEO)

The monumental church is a hundred years old. Ten years ago, the authorities authorised its restoration; now they want to demolish it and replace it with a public square. Catholics turned to praying to get the authorities to respect “the law of the state that protects freedom of religion”. In light of local resistance, the authorities have stopped the demolition.

Changzhi (AsiaNews) – Tens of Catholics have tried to stop the demolition of their church today in Wangcun, a few kilometres from Changzhi, in south-eastern Shanxi province.

As shown in videos below, believers shouted "Jesus save me!" and "Mother Mary, have pity on us!" as they tried to hinder the work of the bulldozer and the police.

In order to stop the demolition, priests and thousands of believers gathered in the rain around the church and the surrounding wall, praying and asking the Lord to "make their heart less hard and act in accordance with the law of the state that protects freedom of religion."

Previously, the authorities had authorised the restoration of the church, a small jewel dating back to the early 20th century. The restoration work had begun four months ago at considerable cost for the faithful. Now, for reasons of “urban planning”, the authorities changed their mind and decreed the demolition of the monumental building.

In a bylaw dated 25 August 2012, the authorities had decided to return "Wangcun's old chapel and associated land” to the Catholic Church. But a few weeks ago, the Communist Party District Committee, along with district authorities, decreed the demolition of the entire area, including the walls and the church building. Officially, the reason for this is that "After the demolition, a square will be built to enrich the life of the people”.

According to the latest report, the authorities stopped the demolition in an attempt to solve the situation.

In Changzhi, out of a local population of almost 3.5 million, Catholics number more than 50,000, served by 47 priests. The diocese has more than 60 churches and chapels.