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Priest Beaten for Protecting a Plot of Church-Owned Land Seized by Mayor

ICC Note:

“Mayor violates agreement with parish. Catholics call for the return of land to rightful owners and for the priest’s attackers, protected by local police, to be put on trial. Properties taken from the Church are worth 13o billion yuan (US$ 17 billion).”


3/20/09 China (AsiaNews) Two men attacked and badly hurt a priest who had been invited to discuss issues relating to a seized Church property. The attack took place in the mayor’s office in Xiangong town. Fr Francis Gao Jianli, 39, from Fengxiang diocese (Shaanxi), is currently hospitalised in Baoji city where he is under police surveillance and is being interrogated.

The incident occurred last Monday. Father Gao had been asked to come to city hall to talk about a plot of land in Xiangong parish the Church had been claiming for some time. After words were exchanged the mayor called in the two attackers.

This year the town government decided instead to take over the land anyway without informing or getting the consent of the parish, sending workers to start clearing the land to build a garden that would improve the environment in this outlying area of Xiangong.

Father Gao and a few hundreds faithful held a sit-in on site to stop the work. The major then invited him to his office to discuss the issue where he was beaten. According to eyewitnesses the mayor helped the attackers flee in a police car.

When news about the violent action spread among Catholics, the faithful went en masse to demonstrate in front of the mayor’s office, where he could not be found.

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