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Two China dioceses reportedly forced to join patriotic association

HONG KONG (UCAN): The dioceses of Fuzhou and Mindong in Fujian, China were forced to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA). In Fuzhou some priests were allegedly banned from leaving China, sources said. 
When approaching the Diocese of Fuzhou, government officials reportedly said that the Diocese of Mindong had already agreed to fall under its wing.
Several sources on the mainland have expressed concern that these are not isolated cases, but merely the beginning of a national movement that will see all dioceses eventually drawn into the CCPA’s orbit and strictly controlled.
However, while the authorities claimed that the clergy in Mindong had pledged allegiance to the CCPA, sources challenged the assertion and said not everyone was on the same page.
“The news made some of the priests in Fuzhou very anxious as they believe the diocese has been coerced into joining up,” sources said.
One source highlighted how there was still considerable opposition to the idea of merging the official and unofficial Church communities despite the Vatican signing a provisional deal with Beijing on the appointment of bishops last September.
Meanwhile, the First Catholic Representative Conference of Baoji City  in the Diocese of Fengxiang, Xi’an, took place on May 11, according to a joint report by the national CCPA and the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China.
At the meeting, the CCPA established its first branch in the city and passed its official constitution. Bishop Peter Li was elected its chairperson, and a group of diocesan priests were named vice chairpersons.
This happened about a month after a church was suddenly demolished in Qianyang on April 10. Sources said there was a widespread belief that the place of worship was targeted because local priests had refused to join the CCPA.
At the May 11 meeting, Bishop Li vowed to “lead the city’s Catholic priests and faithful under the guidance of the CCPA and the Church Administration Commission in the province, to ‘fully implement the basic principles of the party’s religious work, resolutely support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system, and uphold the banner of loving the nation and loving the Church’.”
Another Church source in Shaanxi Province said the Communist Party was seen as having orchestrated all of the moves related to the CCPA, meaning it was likely they would be repeated in other cities and dioceses across China before long.

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