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07/20/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – A Catholic church in China’s Hebei province that is not sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was demolished at the end of June.

On June 27, the authorities in Shijiazhuang city demolished the tent structure of the underground Loyalty church when its Bishop Dong Baolu was hospitalized for a medical checkup. He told Radio Free Asia, “After I was admitted to the hospital, on Monday (June 27), they removed [it]. It has been more than ten days.”

ICC reported earlier that Bishop Dong’s church faced demolition after local authorities had visited him and learned that he does not plan to join the official church. In his diocese, Zhengding, all the priests have been asked to join the state-vetted Catholic Church.

“Most of the [priests] in Zhengding diocese have received [preaching] certificates and signed the agreement. I am the only one left. Do you think they’d let me pass? I am the remaining one among more than 100 priests. Certainly, they will not spare me,” he told RFA.

His parishioners were concerned that he might be taken away, so they arranged for him to be away before the alleged demolition took place. As Bishop Dong foresaw, the demolition did take place during his absence. The parishioners did not resist the demolition that was done by workers hired by the government.

He thinks the reason behind the church’s current situation is related to the Sino-Vatican deal signed in 2018. “The Sino-Vatican agreement supports the official church, not the underground church. This policy is as if when someone is sleepy, you hand him a pillow, perfect! The Vatican has given [China] the opportunity to deal with an underground church. Now the government would be a fool if it does not handle [the underground church],” he added.

The Holy See signed a provisional deal with China on the appointment of bishops in the fall of 2018. The agreement allows the Chinese government to appoint its own bishops without a pontifical mandate, although the latter would have to agree with the nomination.

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