08/08/2020 China (International Christian Concern) – In China’s Shanghai Diocese, underground clergy are recently told that they are unable to use the city’s largest funeral parlor after their priests were barred from officiating prayers in the facility.
According to UCA News, Shanghai Diocese sent a notice on July 27 to say the management of the city’s Longhua Funeral Parlor would allow only state-approved priests to conduct memorial services.
Priests entering the parlor to conduct funeral prayers need to present their “Catholic clergy card,” also known as a “priest’s card,” the official identification of state-approved priests.
An underground priest who asked for anonymity told UCA News that the new requirement came after funeral prayers were conducted for an underground priest in Longhua, which possibly attracted the attention of the authorities as it was attended by several priests of both the underground and state-sanctioned churches.
A leader of an underground church in Shanghai is angered by the rule. Mei-Yue Liu said the authorities were using every opportunity to force underground priests to switch to the state-sanctioned church.
She said the move is “disrespectful to the dead but we will not give in to such pressures.”
Both Protestant and Catholic underground churches in China are facing growing pressure to join the state-sanctioned churches, or else they face harassment or even closure. The Chinese government is fearful of the underground churches, as it is unable to control their theology. It needs to ensure that churches submit their control to the Chinese Communist Party.