02/09/2020 China (International Christian Concern) – A state-sanctioned Chinese priest who was released on December 9, 2019, after being jailed for a year and two months, is now ousted by the government and driven out of his church.
According to Bitter Winter, Father Liu Jiangdong, who served at the Church of the Sacred Heart, in the Erqi district of Zhengzhou in Henan province, was accused by Zhengzhou’s Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) and Religious Affairs Bureau in September 2018 for “disorderly financial accounts” and “using public money for private purposes.”
Based on Asia News’ report, the real motive behind the persecution was his refusal to follow the government’s regulations. He was also “too active with the young” and “did too much” for his congregation. Fr. Liu was isolated for a week, his priesthood certificate suspended, and was relieved of all his clerical duties.
A month later, Fr. Liu was arrested, and after some time, sentenced to detention for a year and two months. A source in the diocese shared that a lawyer, who was hired by the priest’s family to defend him, revealed that Fr. Liu’s imprisonment had nothing to do with the church’s accounts: the government simply wanted to drive him out of the church and the province for not following its policies on religion.
On January 1, 2020, when he returned to his church, he found that the lock to his residence had been changed. A local believer told Bitter Winter that when church workers let him in, Fr. Liu realized that his home had been searched, and many of his belongings missing.
On January 10, the priest was summoned by the local Religious Affairs Bureau and Security Bureau and ordered to leave the Zhengzhou Diocese the next day.
A churchgoer told Bitter Winter that the government wanted to drive Fr. Liu out of the church and Henan Province. She added that since the day Fr. Liu was released from detention, authorities started surveilling him and monitor his phone calls.
Members of his former congregation were threatened to be fined up to 200,000 RMB (about $ 29,000) if they were to shelter him or invite him to hold Mass in their homes. “No one dares to take him in; he is now homeless and pushed to the corner,” the woman said.