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Catholic kindergarten seized in Henan

HONG KONG (UCAN): The Catholic-run, Tian-ai Kindergarten in China’s populous Henan province, has been seized by authorities. The kindergarten’s 60 to 70 students are now attending other schools nearby. 
The school, run by Zhifang Church in the parish of Weihui in the diocese of Anyang, was sealed after police bills were posted on the school’s gate on February 14 and March 14.
A source familiar with the situation explained, “Posting twice means the school is not allowed to run.”
The source, who is with the official Church, said the local fire bureau, public security bureau and education bureau went to investigate the kindergarten and said it was disqualified.
“Nearby kindergartens which are run much more badly were not seized—only the one run by the Church,” the source said.
The move comes amid a growing trend by the Chinese government to harass Christian communities not attached to official state-run Catholic and Protestant Churches. Islamic groups have also been targeted.
The source claimed it was a political campaign and the government had to firmly grasp the importance of education. It was preventing the Church from doing things related to education, including running kindergartens.
“We can only fully obey the government and pray. We have no other choice,” the source said.
The seizure appears to contradict a speech, On the Positive Role Models and Influences of the Catholic Church in the Modern Society of China, made by Bishop John Baptist Yang Xiaoting of Yulin, from the official Church, at a conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
The conference, Christianity in the Chinese Society: Impact, Interaction and Inculturation, was held by Yuan Dao Study Society and Gregorian University Foundation from March 22 to 23.
The bishop, who is recognised by the Vatican and Beijing, presented data showing nine orphanages, seven homes for mentally handicapped children, 52 homes for the elderly, 136 clinics, eight hospitals, 43 kindergartens, two cultural schools, one vocational school and 173 primary schools run by the Catholic Church in China. He referred to the Church’s positive influence on society.
Bishop Yang said the China Church was winning people’s hearts through its expanding social services and it represented an important form of “adaptation.” He suggested using a government-approved word for religion to prove the need to be a good Chinese citizen. 
He said the Church could maintain the foundation of religious doctrine and integrate into China’s outstanding traditional culture.
Sang Pu, a Hong Kong-based critic of China’s regime, said the current situation could be termed a Quasi-Cultural Revolution similar to the Cultural Revolution. 
He said the United Front Work Department categorises people and groups as red (pro-communist China), gray (the middle) and black (against communist China). “You the gray must turn to red, otherwise you will be treated as black to be attacked,” he explained.
While the current situation has no bloody fighting, the ideology and organisational methods applied during the Cultural Revolution are like what the government is using now, Sang Pu said.

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