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ICC Note: The comments of this retired Catholic cardinal ring true – these cross removals are an insult to the Christian faith, an ongoing attempt by the Chinese state to humiliate, intimidate and control the growing number of Christian churches.

By UCA News reporter, Hong Kong

08/17/2015 China (UCANews.com)

The removal of crosses in China’s Zhejiang province is an insult to the faith and a violation of the religious rights of Christians, said retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong.

Cardinal Zen, who presided at an Aug. 14 Mass in Hong Kong’s St. Andrew’s Church, denounced the cross-removal program, saying it was “a serious regression of [China’s] religious policy.”

“The cross is a symbol of faith. The authorities removing the crosses are insulting our faith [and] violating our rights that are guaranteed by the constitution,” the 83-year-old cardinal, known for his outspokenness and criticism of China’s Communist Party, said in his homily.

The Mass, organized by the diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission, was attended by about 750 people. Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing of Hong Kong and five other foreign missionaries concelebrated.

“I initially thought the campaign was a local government’s decision. But since it has been ongoing for some time, I come to believe it is a state policy, which is very terrible and is a serious regression of the religious policy,” he said.

More than 1,200 Christian Churches in Zhejiang have had their crosses forcibly removed in the past 20 months. While the government claims they are simply removing “illegal structures”, critics maintain it is a coordinated effort to harass the province’s more than 2 million Christians.

A day after Cardinal Zen’s comments, authorities in Zhejiang’s Wenling city issued an order for 15 “illegal” churches be vacated or demolished by Sept. 1, according to the state-run Global Times.

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