Fr. Huang Jintong, 60, does not want to sign up for membership in the “independent Church”. He will be held for about a month. At least 6 parishes have been closed. Archbishop Guo Xijin forced to live without water, electricity and gas.

04/06/2020, 11.32

Mindong (AsiaNews) – Fr Huang Jintong, 60, parish priest of Saiqi, has disappeared in police custody. On April 3, security forces picked him up and took him to an unknown location. A few hours later, Msgr. Vincenzo Guo Xijin, unofficial (and auxiliary) bishop of Mindong, received a call from public security advising him to prepare clothes for Fr. Huang because he won’t be able to come home for a month.

Huang is one of about 20 priests who do not agree to sign membership in the “independent Church“. In all likelihood he will have to endure political propaganda and brainwashing sessions to forcibly extract his membership.

After the signing of the provisional agreement between the Vatican and China, the government launched a campaign to eliminate the unofficial communities by requiring each priest to sign a document with which they adhere to the “independent Church”, refuse relations with foreigners, prohibit religious education to young people under the age of 18, limit religious activities to within the narrow confines of churches.

Many priests equate the signing the document “independent Church” with denying their bond with the Pope and the universal Church and becoming state officials: in addition to displaying the Chinese flag on sacred buildings, one must collaborate with socialist society and support the Chinese Communist Party and its supreme leader Xi Jinping.

Since the last months of last year, at least 6 parishes of renitent parish priests have been closed. The parish of Fr. Huang, Saiqi is among the largest and has around 5,000 faithful.

With the signing of the Sino-Vatican agreement, the diocese of Mindong was to be a kind of “pilot project” for its implementation. At the request of Pope Francis, its bishop, Msgr. Guo, agreed to be demoted to auxiliary bishop to leave the ordinary see to Msgr. Zhan Silu, an official bishop from whom the pontiff – as part of the agreement – lifted excommunication.

But Msgr. Guo, not having signed membership in the independent Church, was not recognized by the government. In recent months, he risked being made homeless: on January 15, the Religious Affairs Office gave him an eviction order from the bishop and clergy house in Luojiang. Only fear of bad publicity led them to renege on their original plan and allow him to continue to live in the house. Instead they cut off water, electricity and gas supplies.

Now, every day, Msgr. Guo takes water from an outdoor tap carrying it to the fifth floor where his room is located, which serves as a place of prayer and study.

When he goes down to the ground floor of the building, he does not forget to bless the CCTV cameras installed to monitor him. This way he blesses his controllers.

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