CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

Print Version    Email to Friend
Chinese authorities demolish Way of the Cross in Henan

HONG KONG (UCAN): The Way of the Cross at the well-known Our Lady of Mount Carmel sanctuary, the popular pilgrimage site in China’s Henan province was demolished by authorities at 8.00pm on June 5 in the latest clampdown on religious freedom.
 
Local government officials removed images of Jesus at the site in the village of Tianjiajing in the diocese of Anyang.
 
A source said that authorities sent personnel a month ago to tell Bishop Joseph Zhang Yinlin that the Way of the Cross had to be dismantled, but no specific reason was given. 
 
“Excavators and pickup trucks were driven to the site at night because authorities feared there would be too many church people in the daytime,” he said.
 
Religious sisters living nearby took photographs and videos of the demolition and sent the evidence to chat groups.
 
A religious source said that the Communist Party’s policy appeared to be to “allow Catholicism to exist but not develop.” 
 
The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the only pilgrimage site in Henan province. It was ordered built in 1903 to 1905 by Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions priest, Father Stefano Scarsella, then the apostolic vicar to northern Henan, to thank the Virgin Mary for preserving local missionaries from the dangers of Boxer persecution in 1900.
 
It became a popular pilgrimage site for people from Henan, Hebei and Shanxi provinces, with the main celebration taking place on July 16 each year.
 
It is said that on 16 July 1986, almost 10,000 pilgrims from the three provinces visited with bands and drum teams. 
 
In 1987, the local government sent troops and armoured vehicles to the sanctuary after estimating there would be 50,000 pilgrims, the source said.
 
That same year, known Our Lady of Mount Carmel was designated as illegal by the Henan government. Since then the number of people and vehicles has been controlled with no more than 300 pilgrims allowed at a time.

More from this section