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Cross removals in Henan

HONG KONG (UCAN): The cathedral of Shangqiu South Church in Henan province, China, became the first Catholic church in the province whose crosses were removed by street office and district committee officials, a source, who requested anonymity, reported on March 9.
“The officials said the largest one at the highest point of the cathedral had to be removed but church staff disagreed,” the source said.
Church staff reported the incident to both the municipal and district religious affairs bureaus who also disagreed, but the street office and the district committee went ahead with the removals.
The South Church comprises an old small church, a cathedral and a gate tower. A total of 10 crosses were removed—six surmounting the cathedral, one above the door of the cathedral and three above the old church next to the cathedral.
The source said the incident was reported to the provincial National People’s Congress (NPC) and the provincial Chinese People’s Political Consultation Conference (CPPCC), which resulted in the street office installing new crosses, but smaller and fewer ones.
Only three crosses instead of six were placed above the cathedral, while one was installed above the door of the cathedral and one instead of three fitted on the old church.
The original central cross above the cathedral was three metres tall, but its replacement is only half the size.
Father John of Henan province, called the cadres’ action “brutal” and a misunderstanding of the recently revised regulations on religious affairs.
One Catholic, who works in the provincial NPC and CPPCC, pointed out that the cathedral is legal, but the removal of crosses was illegal and should be suspended. He asked why the original heritage crosses were not reinstalled.
There have been several incidents in Henan recently, including the removal of crosses and the posting of signs prohibiting minors from entering churches, but Father John believes Henan is not a particular target.
“Since the newly revised regulations on religious affairs were enforced, such incidents have happened nationwide,” he said.
On February 27, crosses and other features of the Yining Catholic Church in Urumqui, in Xinjiang, were demolised for no stated reason (Sunday Examiner, March 11).

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