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

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

8/29/17

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.

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

  1. Vigil continues around the Changzhi church at risk of expropriation and demolition (video)

    8/30/17

    The bishop, Msgr. Ding denounces the local government’s turnaround and yesterday’s beatings. Thugs, police and soldiers attack faithful. “Kill the priests first!” Several Catholics’ cars have been destroyed. The sad connection with China-Vatican dialogue. The betrayal of Xi Jinping’s words.

    Changzhi (AsiaNews) – The tension around the Wangcun Church (Changzhi), which is at risk of land reclamation and demolition, has intensified after yesterday’s clashes and the blockade (temporary) of the bulldozers.

    Throughout the night, hundreds of faithful in the diocese remained in the open air in vigil, praying and chanting the rosary to prevent a night-time intervention. There were also five or six priests with the faithful. The others who had participated in the sit-in yesterday – some of them were injured – were accommodated in the diocesan center in the city. Many of them have distant parishes and have decided to remain at Changzhi to demand respect for their rights.

    In his homily during Mass this morning the Bishop of Changzhi, Msgr. Peter Ding Lingbin, called for justice and denounced the local government’s u-turn,. 10 years ago authorities had returned the church and the land around it to the diocese. Now wants it to transform it into a public “square.” He also recalled the violence that some priests and faithful were victims of yesterday.

    The issue of the Wangcun Church, a nearly 100-year-old monument, and surrounding land has lasted for a long time. The sacred building and the land were seized under Mao. According to a law approved by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s, they it was supposed to have been returned to the legitimate owners. But nothing was done until 2012, when the local government signed a document for the return of properties.

    A few months ago, the same government, ruled that lands around the church would be required to build a square. In this way – the faithful explain – the church will have no room for developing activities and there is a risk that sooner or later the sacred building will be demolished and destroyed.

    Yesterday the local government wanted to begin demolition, destroying the wall around the church. For this reason several bulldozers had moved in. The workers were accompanied by party officials, thugs, police and soldiers, almost 400 people.

    There were also a thousand faithful in the place [local media said they were just “a dozen”] and dozens of priests wearing their alb and stole.

    At the order of the authorities the thugs began to beat the faithful and the priests (see video). Some thugs shouted, “Kill the priests first!” The beating continued for hours and the mob destroyed several cars of the faithful. Meanwhile, to prevent other Catholics from reaching the site, all access routes to the area were blocked.

    “Some of the criminals and some of the bleeding faithful – says one of the witnesses – are still in the police stations.”

    During the clashes, Msgr. Ding was in frantic talks with the Party Committee and local government authorities asking them to stop the violence and resolve the issue. For the bishop the issue is not only economic, but religious repression and discrimination against Catholics and a human rights abuse. He also asked the authorities to compensate priests and faithful who were victims of the beatings, to repay the value of broken cars, to punish the perpetrators of the violence.

    One priest comments: “This episode of repression and discrimination occurs just as China and the Vatican say that they are talking!”

    Another stresses that what is happening is a betrayal of the words of President Xi Jinping, who sees religions as a tool for building the nation: “If the people have faith, the nation has hope, the country has strength.”

    According to some, the new urban design hides a project to use the land for construction. The area is only a few miles from Changzhi Airport and if it was put on sale, it would sell for hundreds of millions of yuan.

    For the Church it is about defending the spaces to create charitable and evangelizing activities.

    “The bulldozers have been stopped – says a priest – but they are still on the site. And for now there is only the word of the village leader who stopped the demolition. But there is no word from the highest authorities.”

  2. [Re: Bishop Peter Ding Lingbin’s ecclesiastical background]

    The “tranquil” ordination of Msgr. Peter Ding Lingbin, bishop of Changzhi

    The ordination was attended by about 2 thousand people; many non-Christians looked on from the street. Security was discreet. Rules imposed on the eve very strict. All of the ordaining bishops are in communion with the Pope. The Holy See mandate read in private; that of the council of Chinese bishops read in public.

    10/11/16

    Changzhi (AsiaNews) – This morning at 8am the episcopal ordination of Msgr. Peter Ding Lingbin (丁玲斌) as bishop of Changzhi (Shanxi) took place in a “very tranquil” manner. Msgr. Ding, 54, is an adult vocation and as a youth graduated in medicine and worked as a doctor in the city hospital.

    At least 2 thousand people attended the ceremony, including hundreds of priests and dozens of nuns who arrived from neighboring dioceses. Several hundred worshipers were present in the church, while the majority took part from the outside. There were many non-Christians onlookers in the street in front of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, where the liturgy was held.

    The faithful were allowed to enter the church and attend the celebration without many problems. An AsiaNews source said that “security was very discreet”. In the days previous to the ordination, the local authorities had placed strict conditions on participation: The need to show a pass, identification, the ban on smartphones and taking pictures, etc … But this morning people were able to enter the church and gather without too much trouble. And at the end of the ceremony, many took pictures with their mobile phones. “Maybe it’s because the civil authorities understood that we just wanted to attend mass,” said a source for AsiaNews. “And then, if they had stopped the people, it is likely that they would have aroused the anger of the faithful.”

    The ordaining bishops were all in communion with the Pope: Msgr. Giuseppe Li Shan, Archbishop of Beijing, who presided over the celebration; Msgr. Meng Ningyou Taiyuan (Shanxi); Msgr. Wu Junwei Yuncheng (Jiangzhou, Shanxi), Msgr. Li Shuguang of Nanchang (Jiangxi); Msgr. Zhang Yinlin Anyang (Henan). The ordination was also attended by the Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Changzhi, Msgr. Jin Daoyuan.

    In recent weeks, following the announcement of this ordination, there were rumors that it was the first fruit of an “imminent” agreement between China and the Vatican, for years engaged in a dialogue to find a common path in the appointment and ordination of bishops. In fact, Msgr. Ding had been approved by the Holy See more than two years ago, even before any agreement. Beijing’s approval came in recent weeks. Two years ago the diocese was visited by Wang Zuoan, from the State Administration for Religious Affairs.

    As is the case for several years, the papal letter sent to Msgr. Ding was read in private, to the priests; the letter of the Council of Chinese Bishops was read in public.

    At the end of the ceremony, Msgr. Ding thanked the bishops, priests, religious and the faithful present at the ceremony, as well as officials of the United Front and Religious Affairs Bureau present. “Of course – he says the source of AsiaNews – he thanked the Pope in his heart.”

  3. [Catholics and Protestants are not the only ones whose religious facilities are being demolished to make way for “progress”]

    A Tibetan Buddhist academy placed under the direct management of the atheist Communist Party

    8/28/17

    The centre’s new director, secretary and members of the board of directors are all party members, atheists, non-believers in Buddhism. The demolition of student houses continues. The authorities plan to develop the area for tourism.

    null

    Chengdu (AsiaNews) – Tibet’s Larug Gar Buddhist Academy will be headed by a Communist director and secretary, and other Communist officials will hold the majority on the board of directors.

    The learning centre, which is located in Garze (western Sichuan), was established in the 1980s by Jigme Phuntsok, a monk who attracted tens of thousands of followers and monks. Since the founder’s death in 2004, the centre was ruled by a group of authoritative, democratically elected monks.

    On 20 August, the Sichuan Prefecture decided to appoint Garze’s deputy police chief as the Academy’s director, who will also serve as its party secretary. Two officials from the local Religious Affairs Bureau will become the academy’s deputy director and deputy party secretary. Three other local party officials will be the monastery’s party secretary and management committee directors.

    Although all of them are Tibetans, they belong to an atheist party and do not believe in Buddhism.

    According to the Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the goal of this move is, first, to diminish the Academy’s value and influence, placing it in the hands of incompetent people, and, second, to boost local tourism through infrastructure development. The latter however could destroy the academy’s natural and spiritual environment.

    This is not the first time that Larung Gar is targeted. More than a year ago, the authorities tore down student houses and chased many away. Out of 10,000 students, male and female, studying at the academy in 2016, only 4,828 monks and nuns are left. Some 4,725 houses were flattened.

    Almost two years ago, Xi Jinping, in a speech to the United Front, noted that religions must submit to the Chinese Communist Party.

    Since then, all religious activity (by Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Christians) has come under tighter controls. The scrupulous application of regulations has included tearing down crosses and demolishing mosques and temples.

  4. “It’s all over but the [shooting]!”

    [Hat-tip to Catholic World News]

    Catholic church’s buildings destroyed by demolition crew, injuring 10 Christian protestors

    ChinaAid
    Friday, September 1, 2017

    (Changzhi, Shanxi—Sept. 1, 2017) A group of more than 100 members of local government organizations in China’s inland Shanxi province descended upon a catholic church, destroying several buildings on the property, injuring several church members.

    On Aug. 29, a large group of officers attacked Wangcun Catholic Church, knocking down auxiliary buildings connected to the church, drawing waves of protestors from the church. The government deployed bulldozers to knock buildings down and physical altercations broke out between the demolition crews and protestors, injuring at least 10 church members.

    Wangcun Catholic Church, founded over a century ago, has often clashed with authorities regarding the property rights of the church. In 1949, the church was confiscated by the government and turned into a factory, which then went bankrupt in 2005. In August 2012, the church regained possession of the property after the government determined that the foundation and the old factory belonged to the church.

    In the past few weeks, however, the government delivered documents rescinding that decision and have attempted to confiscate the courtyard and outer buildings back, which the church does not agree with. On the day of the scheduled demolition, Wangcun Church members and Christians from several other area churches came to support the church against the demolition crews.

    On the evening after the confrontation, a pastor of the church spoke with the Changzhi city government to halt the demolition and open negotiations regarding the church property.

    There are more than a half million Catholic believers across approximately 60 churches in Changzhi. Wangcun Catholic Church has about 400 members.

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