CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 September 2018

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Court overrules appeal on house church closure

BEIJING (Agencies): A court in Guizhou, China, has ruled against an appeal by a Christian community disputing an order that a house church must be closed.

China Aid reported that members of the Huaqiu House Church raised 50,000 yuan ($62,500) and built a church in May 2014 after receiving a certificate of approval for the self-financed project.

On 1 July 2014, officials from the local Land and Resources Ministry issued a notice that the construction did not have the correct legal certification and filed a lawsuit against the Church community calling for it to be removed.

The court decided against the Church in the first trial, prompting Huaqiu House Church to appeal for reconsideration in April this year.

In August, the court upheld the initial decision, potentially leaving the Church congregation without a place to worship.

An official with the Tongzi County Religious Affairs Bureau told China Aid that the Church needed to get government verification and approval at the provincial level, even though the building is on their own land.

A Church member named Mou said that government officials told him that the only way to protect the Church was to register with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the state-approved Protestant Church. “They wanted me to go to the Religious Affairs Bureau and register. They tried to force us.”

Mou said that the Church had a lawyer and would continue to appeal the decision. “I believe their ruling is erroneous,” he explained, “and it isn’t truly in accordance with the truth or the law.”

 

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