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05/07/2019 China (International Christian Concern) – Last night, local authorities in Hebei began demolishing the Catholic church of the village of Shen Liu in the diocese of Handan. The huge cross from the bell tower was first removed, but the walls are expected to be torn down next.

According to Asia News, the motivation behind the demolition was that the church and the cross are “too visible” from the nearby highway and passing cars can be distracted by the Christian symbol and the building. Local authorities also claim that the church does not have all the necessary building permits. However, parishioners maintain that the church – belonging to the official community – was built with the permission of the Religious Affairs Office.

The order to demolish Shen Liu’s church dates back to Holy Thursday. The authorities agreed to remove only the cross and save the building, after much discussion with the priest in charge. However, the saved building can only be used for other purposes not related to worship.

The priest will likely accept this condition. As one of the faithful comments, taking his cue from the game of Chess, he is willing “to sacrifice the knight to save the queen.”

Some priests of the diocese expressed that the local government has already planned the destruction of 23 other churches, all belonging to the official community.

A priest warns, “I fear that after starting from the diocese of Handan, they will soon pass to other dioceses to make them suffer the same fate. Long ago, Handan’s minor seminary was dissolved; then they put the Chinese flag in place of the cross. Thus, slowly, other dioceses will also have to follow the example. Last night is the first church in the Hebei province from which they have torn down the Cross. Who knows whose turn is next! “

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator:[email protected].