10/04/2020 China (International Christian Concern) – Although there have been delays for both sides to renew the controversial 2018 Sino-Vatican provisional agreement on bishop appointment, the Chinese government does not delay in putting pressure on unregistered Catholics to solicit their membership in the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA).
According to Bitter Winter, the Sorrowful and Immaculate Sacred Heart Church in the Diocese of Yujiang in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, which has a history spanning nearly 300 years, was ordered to raise the national flag. Since April this year, the local government issued several orders to rectify it, resulting in the removal of religious symbols and paintings inside and the cross atop the church roof.
On September 9, the local government ordered to repurpose the church and turn it into an entertainment venue with a canteen, an amusement arcade, and an activity center for the elderly.
“The government has tried repeatedly to take over the church,” a congregation member told Bitter Winter. “I was ready to protest to the end, even if meant losing my job and government benefits.”
A priest from the Yujiang dioceses also told Bitter Winter that he was summoned three times in just two weeks by local officials, who informed him that the new agreement with the Vatican would no longer be provisional. “They told me that I would be prohibited from celebrating Mass if I refuse to join,” the priest said. “They even threatened to punish me according to the National Security Law if I do.”
ICC has reported last month that the Chinese government has also abducted priests who refused to join the CPCA. Priest Liu in Guangdong was tortured while in detention for more than two weeks. Another priest in the diocese was also targeted but he went into hiding in time.
With all these menacing and persecution against Chinese underground Catholics, it is all the more distressing that the Vatican still believes that it is serving the Chinese Catholics by renewing the deal.