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Church in Xi’an demolished in the name of development

XI’AN (AsiaNews): The only Catholic church in Zhifang, a village in the Huyi District, near Xi’an in Shaanxi province, was torn down by authorities on December 27 with no reason given apart from a simple notification. 
News of the demolition was reported on social media along with pictures of the church’s legal papers which show that it had been duly approved and had all the necessary permits from the Religious Affairs Bureau to use the land on a permanent basis.
Located not far from the Beijing-Kunming highway, near the Zhifang exit on the Xi’an-Hanzhong highway, the building had been in constant use since 1999.
Before and during the demolition, members of the parish were prevented from coming near the church or taking things from the sacristy.
The building’s cross was destroyed, the images of the way of the cross and the tabernacle, as well as other liturgical objects vanished, while liturgical vestments and chairs for prayer were taken away on lorries.
Catholics held demonstrations in the village in front of the local municipal building, but so far had not received a response. 
“What kind of law enforcement in a civilised society is this? What kind of policy on religious freedom is this?” wrote one person on social media.
Another called for prayer “for redemption and for the profaned temple” asking for a “real implementation of the policy of religious freedom.”
Shan Ren Shen Fu, writing on AsiaNews website on December 29, suggests the church building was demolished for development purposes because of its proximity to the highway.
“In the name of development, a large area of cultivated countryside has been reduced to a desert, but nobody has taken an interest in this. Instead, in the name of the development of the scenic area, this church, which dates back almost two decades, has been destroyed and demolished. In the name of development and under the catalyst of an inflated economy, how many evil things have been done, violating not only the earthly law but that of heaven!” Shan writes.

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