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ICC Note: Right after Christmas, the Chinese government has forcibly demolished the only Catholic church in Zhifang, a village near Xi’an in Shaanxi province without giving any reason. The church has been used uninterruptedly since 1999 and has all the necessary papers showing the land use is “permanent”. Members of the congregation were blocked from defending the church during the demolition. Local authorities also ignored protests outside of municipal building.

12/28/2017 China (Asia News) – The only Catholic church in Zhifang, a village in the Huyi District, near Xi’an (Shaanxi), was demolished by force and without any reason.

Built almost 20 years ago, the simple and plain building had obtained all the necessary permits for its construction from the Religious Affairs Bureau.

Located not far from the Beijing-Kunming highway, the building is near the Zhifang exit on the Xi’an-Hanzhong highway. It has been used for worship by local Catholics since 1999.

Catholics reported the news of its demolition on social media, posting pictures of the church’s legal papers, which show that it had been duly approved and had all the necessary permits to the legal use of the land.

The church has been used uninterruptedly since 1999. The papers indicate that land use was “permanent”.

By contrast, without consulting the community, the authorities issued a simple note on 20 December and proceeded yesterday afternoon to tear down the building.

As a result, the church’s cross was destroyed, the images of the Via Crucis, the tabernacle and other liturgical objects disappeared, and the vestments and chairs for prayer were taken away on lorries.

Before and during the demolition, the members of the congregation were not allowed to come near the building or take things from the sacristy.

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