CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 November 2018

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Unscrupulous developers suspected of church arson

Xiantao (UCAN): Members of the Catholic congregation in a small city in Hubei province, central China, report that their church was burned down in mid-September and they believe the fire may have been deliberately set.

The church was the only building left in Caibang village, near the city of Xiantao, after local Catholics held firm when developers paid off locals last year to move out and make way for new apartments.

One person, who declined to be identified, accused developers of burning down houses in the area while people were out, forcing them to accept compensation so construction could go ahead.

“Nobody shows any concern about such an evil practice,” she said.

Father Zhang Wei, a young priest from Hanyang diocese, reported the fire in his blog. He claimed that the developer did not offer compensation for the church as promised, which would have allowed the people to move it to another site.

The wooden altar was burned to the ground while the roof was gutted by fire.

“Unless flammable liquids were sprinkled in the church, it would not have ignited easily,” Father Zhang said.

He added that people were forced to abandon the church after Easter this year when authorities cut the water and electricity off.

Father  Zhang also claimed that the police have so far failed to seriously investigate the fire.

The church was rebuilt in 1993 after being dismantled in 1953 during the upheavals that marked the start of Mao Zedong’s communist rule.

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