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Chinese Christians emerge from the shadows

ICC Note

Amid persecution, the number of Christians is growing in China . In some areas of the country, Christians are getting more freedom to worship as this article indicates.

By Richard Spencer

October 8, 2007 China (Telegraph)-The Catholic community in Yan’an, the cradle of China ‘s communist revolution, has won permission to build its first church in more than seven decades in a sign of the religious revival sweeping the country.

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“This is a sacred place to the Communist Party,” said Fr Peter Zhang, the young priest who ministers to 600 Catholics in the town, up from a handful a decade ago, and others in towns nearby. He said he thought there were still believers who kept their faith secret, but the new church might give them confidence to reveal themselves.

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Religion in all forms has seen a rebirth in the last decade in China , as worshippers have emerged from their secret conclaves.

Perhaps most surprising, given the country’s Buddhist and Taoist traditions, has been the explosion in the numbers of Christians.

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Government figures say that 16 million Protestants and six million Catholics are registered with the two state-approved churches, but tens of millions more worship in unregistered churches and are often subject to persecution.

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She said Catholics in the city still recalled people being tortured and killed in the cultural revolution. Two of her uncles were taken away to prison.

“The family received letters saying not to bother coming to look for them,” she said. “That way, the family knew they were dead.”

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