CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 June 2018

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Church scarred and marred in Xinjiang

HONG KONG (UCAN): Authorities demolished the crosses, statues, bell towers and other features of a the Yining Catholic Church of the Urumqi Diocese in Xinjiang, northwest China on February 27. State-instructed workers removed the exterior religious features using a crane. A source said that no reason was given for the action but it is believed to have been carried out because the religious features were “incompatible with Sinicisation.”
 
The source said three crosses and two bell towers of the church building were demolished and that all religious symbols, two big statues and any reliefs were removed. 
 
The church received a letter from the authorities the day before informing them the demolition would occur.
 
“It originally said religious features inside the church would demolished as well but it was suspended without any reasons given,” the source said.
 
The source said he was puzzled by what happened because of it occurred just before the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress scheduled to be held in Beijing on March 3 and 5, and while a Sino-Vatican agreement is supposedly being worked out.
 
The source went on to recount that last November the cross on a church steeple in Manas city, also in Xinjiang, was demolished.
 
“So it appears that crosses should be demolished because of Sinicization,” the source said. 
 
In eastern Zhejiang province, more than 1,500 churches, both Catholic and Protestant, have been targeted for demolition or cross removals in recent years in an apparent campaign against churches not under state control. Authorities are increasingly resorting to property regulations to remove crosses and demolish churches.
 
The destruction wreaked on Yining Catholic Church may be related to local political tensions, the source speculated. The authorities have long repressed ethnic minorities, especially the Uyghurs, as well as religions in Xinjiang, often under the pretense of fighting terrorism. 

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