12/29/2017, 13.43
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Zhifang village Catholic Church demolished in the name of development

by Shan Ren Shen Fu (山人神父)

The sacred building was destroyed because "illegal", but in reality it had all the building permits for 20 years. It’s destruction, perhaps for economic reasons, is "illegal": the land where the church was located is now worth a lot, thanks to the development that took place in the area.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - "In the name of development" "many bad things" are carried out in China, including the destruction of the church in the village of Zhifang (Shaanxi). Although it was built 20 years ago with all the permits issued by the authorities, it was demolished in a very short time because it was "illegal". The destruction – which instead really is illegal - of the sacred building continues to provoke discussions on social media in China. In his reflection that we publish below, the priest-blogger Shanren ventures the hypothesis that the church was destroyed to take possession of its land, the value of which has jumped due to the 'development' of the nearby highway, violating not only Chinese law, but "that of heaven".

Yesterday, December 28, Feast of the Holy Innocents, I learned the shocking news that the Catholic church in the village of Zhifang, in Laoyu, Hu County, Shaanxi Province, had been forcibly demolished. The surprising reason given by the authorities was that the church illegally occupied the ground in the scenic area of ​​Zhifang.

I remember that, when the church was built in Zhifang, the so-called panoramic area didn’t exist, nor did the Xian-Hanzhong highway which was built many years later.

When Fr. Zhang Sanqi was the parish priest of our village, the Laoyu valley was under the pastoral leadership of Fr. Zhang. At that time there were already three churches built respectively in Duijiaocha, Yinjiapo and Zoulupo. I visited two of these three places. The village of Zhifang is at the foot of the mountain, and there was no church then.

At that time, many faithful had already moved from the mountains to the plain along the river. Later, when Fr. Ma Gongle became a parish priest, after several consultations and following the approval of the village committee, the faithful of Zhifang built a Catholic church in their village, adequately resolving the needs of the local faithful to profess their religion.

Judging from the documents disseminated by the diocese regarding the approval for the church, the construction of the church in Zhifang was formally approved and legally certified by the authorities. Therefore, the construction of the church is not illegal, rather the forced demolition of the same is illegal!

The local Catholics have spontaneously organized protests before the Huyi District Party Committee to demand an explanation! Why this situation today? I think all this is linked to the continuous appreciation of the real estate upon which the church was built.

When the Zhifang church was built, the Xian-Hanzhong highway still did not exist. But now they are building an exit of the Xian-Hanzhong highway right alongside the village of Zhifang. Planning provides for the village to become a scenic area. This has led to a drastic appreciation in economic terms of the church grounds. It is most lucrative to take that land with the excuse that the construction is illegal, demolishing the church quickly and thus saving costs considerably. Moreover, the local faithful are not numerous, and the authorities have imposed administrative orders to intimidate them, to hinder them, to disturb them. In that way, the demolition was carried out quickly, without encountering problems.

I do not want to go too far into what is illegal, or about who acts in violation of the law, because it is obviously ridiculous to tear down a church, with the excuse that it was built illegally, 20 years after it was built! If there were no highway, if it were not for development, who would care whether there is a Catholic church there? But since there is now the highway, and there is also the church, then you have to demolish it with the excuse that it is an illegal construction, with no respect for the fact that at the time the church was built with all the necessary permits and approvals in accordance with the law. It's really an aberrant episode in violation of the law!

In the name of development, a large area of ​​cultivated countryside has been reduced to a desert, but nobody has taken an interest in this. Instead, in the name of the development of the scenic area, this church, which dates back almost two decades ago, has been destroyed and demolished. In the name of development and under the catalyst of an inflated economy, how many evil things have been done, violating not only the earthly law but that of heaven!

I sincerely hope that there is a fairly reasonable answer for the illegal demolition of the church in Zhifang! We cannot only blame the temporary workers who drove the bulldozers!

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