ICC Note: Chinese authorities demolished the only Catholic church in the village of Zhifang, in Shaanxi province after Christmas last year, claiming the building “illegally occupied” the ground. Cross was destroyed and sacred items were removed. Members of the church were banned from going near the church. However, local officials had given the church permission to use the land, as recorded in written documents. Latest investigation by the diocese shows the government’s intention to develop the area into a scenic spot given potential profits it could bring. A negotiation is under way to resolve the incident.
01/05/2018 China (UCA News) – Nearly 100 Catholics protested the demolition of a church in China, shouting “Give back my church” and “Freedom of belief.”
Authorities demolished the church in Zhifang village of Lauyu district of Xian city in Shaanxi province on Dec. 27 after claiming it was occupying land illegally.
Bishop Wu Qinjing of Zhouzhi on the same day issued a statement that local officials came to the diocese to apologize.
The diocese has set up a special team to negotiate with the government to resolve the incident.
“The negotiation is ongoing and will be handed over to the relevant priest,” he told ucanews.com.
Local Catholics used social media to show photos of the demolition and attached official documents that approved the church for worship. One document also showed that local officials had given the church permission to use the land for building.
However, without consultation with the parish, the local government posted a notice on Dec. 20 saying that the church was occupying the land illegally and it would be demolished on Dec. 27.
When the church was demolished, a cross was destroyed and sacred items were removed. People were strictly forbidden from going near the church.
The church was built in 1999 after all approvals were completed as a place for local Catholics to worship.
For additional information or for an interview, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator at [email protected].