The faithful remained in prayer throughout the day, powerless as they watched the destruction. The province of Henan (with 4% of Christians) is a pilot experiment for repression. Party violence tries to curb conversions.
by Peter Zhao
Weihui (AsiaNews) – The repression and sinicization of the Catholic Church continues in the Henan. Two days ago the local authorities of Weihui, in the diocese of Anyang, destroyed the huge iron crosses that stood out on the two bell towers.
Two videos of the operation, which have been sent to AsiaNews, show workers on tall cranes removing the crosses. Dozens of policemen are in the courtyard to prevent possible criticism and resistance. Many faithful, impotent against abuse, kneel on the steps of the Church in prayer and singing. The faithful remained in prayer throughout the day.
Destroying too much visible crosses, eliminating decorations, paintings and statues judged as “too Western” is the way in which the “sinicization” is affirming itself, to bring out a Christianity “according to the Chinese characteristics”, and above all subjected to the authority of the Party Communist. In Henan this campaign has lasted for years. Often the crosses are replaced with Chinese flags, giving churches an image of “government office”.
Since the launch of the new regulations on religious activities, Henan has become a sort of pilot-experiment of repression: several churches have been closed, the catechism is forbidden for children and teenagers, Christian graves destroyed. According to some priests, the reason is simple: in Henan Christians are about 4% of the population, making it one of the provinces with the highest percentage of Christians. “By showing such violence – says a priest – the government tries to frighten not so much those who are already Catholics, but the people who would like to convert to Christianity”.