CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 March 2019

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Chinese authorities confiscate Christian Council’s official seal

HONG KONG (UCAN): Provincial authorities in Zhejiang confiscated the official seal of the local Christian Council after it issued a statement demanding an end to a government campaign which has seen the removal of over 1,200 crosses from Church buildings.

The open letter demanded that the provincial government “stop immediately such ridiculous acts that split the party and the people.”

The statement added that more than 1,200 churches have had crosses forcibly removed over the past 18 months and that this has hurt the sentiment of more than two million people.

The Protestant Christian Council issued its statement on July 10, five days after provincial Catholic Church leaders released a similar report.

“Shortly after the letter was issued, the Zhejiang Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission demanded that the Christian Council withdraw it. It removed the council’s official seal after that demand was rejected,” a Protestant minister in Wenzhou, who identified himself as Luke, said.

A Chinese researcher, who requested anonymity, explained that this confiscation of the official seal is tantamount to removing some of the council’s authority.

“It cannot issue another statement of protest as the seal represents the validity of an official document,” he explained.

“The Reverend Joseph Gu, from Chongyi Church, president of the council, also has had his freedom restricted,” Luke added.

Anthony Lam Sui-ki, a senior researcher at the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong, urged that the Protestant group to make the incident public “to prevent the authority issuing a statement on behalf of the council and misleading the faithful.”

Lam, commenting on the two public statements by the government-sanctioned Protestant and Catholic Church Councils, pointed out that they are certainly useful in bringing pressure on the authorities.

 

However, it was learned by the Hong Kong-based UCAN news agency that the provincial Catholic Patriotic Association and the Church Affairs Commission have yet to receive a response to their reports from the relevant government departments and Church leaders in Beijing.

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