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07/01/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – An underground Catholic church in China’s Hebei province is facing the risk of being demolished for refusing to join the state-sanctioned official church.

On June 20, Bishop Dong Baolu from the underground Loyalty church in Youtong, Luancheng district, Shijiazhuang city, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) Mandarin service that his church faces demolition after local authorities visited him and learned that he does not plan to join the official church.

Officials from the Ethnic and Religious Bureau and Public Security Bureau visited Bishop Dong in June and requested him to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) after a religious work meeting was held in Luancheng. He was told that his church would be banned to push them to join CPCA.

He told Religious Bureau officials after learning about the probable demolition, “I told them that you could demolish the church, but asking us to demolish our church? How could we? This is a place where we revere the Holy Father. While it is fine for others to take it down, we can’t do it ourselves! […] Those demolition workers are not fearful, but we are fearful if we have to do it.”

He added that he is being monitored now, yet he is not afraid. “To be honest, we are not afraid. What are we afraid of? For years we have been living on the edge. I don’t bring my cell phone since people might tap me. Once I leave my home, there are CCTVs around. What happens in my house can be seen by others. Whenever I had guests, they would immediately send people our way. There is a working group residing in the village. We have been watched 24/7.”

A local believer revealed to RFA a conversation he had with Bishop Dong. “I asked him, how come the government does not arrest him? He responded that he wanted to go in [to prison], but the government wouldn’t do it because he is somewhat known internationally, and many people are aware of him. The government fears his imprisonment would ‘badly affect’ the Chinese government.”

Although his church still stands today, Bishop Dong alleges that the government will send workers to demolish his church soon. He will continue to update RFA about the latest developments.

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