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Chinese in Italy pray for homeland

ROME (UCAN): While the troubled relationship between the Vatican and Beijing remains unresolved, the Chinese Catholic community in Italy is preparing for a prayer day to mark the 10th anniversary of the letter penned to Catholics in China in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI.

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Priest asks China for mercy on North Korean refugees

SEOUL (SE): Father Philippe Blot, who has spent many years working with North Korean refugees in China, said that conditions have worsened for surviving Christians under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-un and he is urging Beijing to give shelter to fugitives crossing into China from the hermit kingdom.

The National Catholic Reporter said on April 4 that Father Blot, a volunteer with the Paris Foreign Mission Society, describes the situation facing North Korean refugees as becoming ever more dramatic as they flee to China to avoid dying of hunger.

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Priest tried but no verdict given

HONG KONG (UCAN): Supporters of Father Fei Jisheng, from Liaoning in China, who faced trial over allegations of embezzlement in northern China, insist he was actually arrested on trumped up charges because of the evangelical work he has been involved in.

They say they are now even more concerned as no verdict has been so far announced by the court.

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Former judge detained for helping farmers

BEIJING (AsiaNews): Police in Xinjiang detained a retired judge, Huang Yunmin, on March 12 for helping local residents file complaints against government officials.

The formal charge brought against him is inciting ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination.

People familiar with the case say his detention is a retaliation against Huang for helping people prepare and pursue legal complaints over what they view as unjust court verdicts and rights violations.

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Spy cameras going into churches

BEIJING (UCAN): China has tightened the squeeze on Christians by forcing Catholic and Protestant Churches in the heavily Christian province of Zhejiang to install CCTV cameras both in and outside their buildings.

The government wants the unofficial and the official Catholic communities in Zhejiang to install surveillance cameras in their parish compounds by the end of March.

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Beijing’s meddling with personnel a new headache for Vatican

HONG KONG (UCAN): The two government appointed Catholic bodies, the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, have released revised constitutions placing Sinicisation at the centre of their operational philosophy.

The new emphasis in the constitutions of the two bodies is being interpreted as part of a broader strategy by Beijing to put a stronger Chinese flavour into religion, which also means a stronger Communist socialist ethic.

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Internet control during national congress tightest yet

HONG KONG (SE): Complaints have emerged from Internet followers of current affairs in China, who say that National People’s Congress, which some refer to as the annual parliament, held in Beijing from March 5 to 15, was marked by stricter-than-usual controls.

Radio Free Asia quoted Guangzhou-based writer, Xu Lin, as saying that many of the more outspoken members of the popular chat network QQ had their accounts shut down at the beginning of March, with fresh accounts also deleted as soon as they were set up.

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Patron of workers and newly-weds celebrated

BEIJING (SE): Living our Christian life in the footsteps of St. Joseph is a much loved celebration in the Church in China. As the patron saint of workers, mission in China and newly-weds, the feast highlights his virtues of obedience, silence, humility and serenity.

Fides reported that parishes, colleges, religious congregations, mission stations not only mark the day of his feast on March 19, but dedicate the whole month to imitating his spirit, which is well in tune with the ancient teachings of Chinese culture and tradition.

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Trampled rights in Tibet

MADRID (UCAN): Fifty-eight years ago, a large Tibetan protest against the Chinese government broke out in Lhasa, Tibet, on March 10, which eventually led to the political and spiritual leader of the country, the Dalai Lama, some government officials and tens of thousands of Tibetans fleeing to neighbouring India, Nepal, Bhutan and other countries.

On March 10 this year, exiled Tibetans around the world held a variety of activities to mark the anniversary and called on the Chinese government to improve its policy towards Tibet and resolve the issues that cause so much discontent.

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Can a Christian join the Communist Party?

HONG KONG (SE): A question posted on Zhihu, the Chinese version of Quora, an Internet question and answer forum, posed the age old question which keeps reappearing on one form or another, “Can a Christian join the Communist Party?”

The query came from a young graduate, who asked, “I’ve been a Christian for six months and now my work requires me to join the Communist Party. But, if the party and religion are at odds with each other, what do I do?”

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