Yining (Xinjiang): ‘Thanks to you, the church has not been destroyed. But Catholics cannot use it ‘
by Bernardo Cervellera
Thanks to the pressure exerted by AsiaNews, the church of the Sacred Heart was not demolished. Tensions in the country over the seizure of land. The faithful had already removed the furnishings and decorations. But the building cannot be used because water, electricity and other services have been cut off by the government.
Rome (AsiaNews) – The Catholic church of Yining (Xinjiang), dedicated to the Sacred Heart, which the authorities had decided to destroy last February, is still standing, but the faithful cannot use it.
This is the latest news to reach us about the sacred building that was slated for demolition on February 19despite having all the legal permits and requirements.
One of the many justifications given by the local authorities for the seizure and destruction of the property, was the charge that the church was “too visible”.
The fat that it is along a road that leads from the city to the airport, in an area destined for urban development, also meant the government wanted to exploit the land for commercial operations.
One member of the community of faithful told us: “We thank God and thank you too: the article you published put some pressure on the local authorities. So they stopped and have not destroyed it”.
This emphasis is of moderate importance: often, even senior Vatican personalities affirm that it is better to remain silent with regards violence against religious freedom in China, because “there is a risk of making the situation worse”.
In this case, the greed and destructive work of the local government has also been curbed by a directive from the central government that warns against land seizures to avoid reactions from the population.
A few days ago, in Guangdong, a farmer blew himself up in a public office after the authorities seized his land without adequate compensation.
However, the church of Yining remains impossible to use. First of all because the faithful, in anticipation of the demolition, took away all the furnishings and decorations, leaving the bare building. In addition, the government, which had begun the demolition, cut off electricity, water and other services.
For now, therefore, the sacred building cannot be used. About 10 days ago, the local authority said it would cover the costs of restoring the building. “But so far – says a faithful – nothing has been done. And the parishioners are waiting… ”.
The Yining church is not the first to risk the fate of demolition. In the name of commercialization of land, at least four other churches have been destroyed in Xinjiang in recent years: in Hami, Kuitun and two churches in Tacheng. All had permits, but they were demolished and no compensation was paid.