Persecution of Christians in China: the altering of the church’s structure in Zhaojialing “sinicize” it is just one small part of the Chinese government’s all-out campaign to turn Christianity into simply another venue for the propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Chinese Orthodox Church is in a vulnerable position amid all this, as it is not one of the Christian groups recognized by the Chinese government. Holy Orthodoxy in China predates this war on Christianity. It has a three-hundred year history in China, with the first Orthodox Christians coming into the country in 1685. In the 1980s, the Chinese Orthodox Church began to experience a revival. Pray that it not be snuffed out. The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, requests once again that the Chinese government end these repressive measures, grant official recognition to the Chinese Orthodox Church, and give full religious freedom to all the Christians of that nation.
See ChristianPersecution.com’s previous coverage of China and its war on Christianity here.
“Catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Zhaojialing Under CCP Attack,” by Zhang Feng, Bitter Winter, December 20, 2000:
In the Northern province of Shanxi, the Zhaojialing village, in Xiangyuan county administered by Changzhi city, has a century-old Catholic presence. In 1790, the Italian Franciscan bishop Mariano Zaralli died there, poisoned by gas at night, while he was visiting the local Catholic community.
In 1810, a local Catholic woman donated money to build a simple church in honor of the Virgin Mary. From these humble beginnings, a shrine was erected between 1867 and 1872, and the Marian sanctuary of Our Lady of Zhaojialing achieved national fame. It was closed and half-destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, but it was rebuilt and re-inaugurated in 1987. Other religious buildings surround the sanctuary, which attracts large pilgrimages each May. All the villagers are Catholics.
Beginning in May this year, the government forced local Catholics to remove from their door lintels the plaques on which religious terms are inscribed. As a result, on the plaques terms such as “The Lord bestows great grace (主賜鴻恩),” “Heavenly grace is overflowing (天恩洋溢)”, “The light of grace shines (恩光普照)” were replaced with “Harmony in the family leads to prosperity in all undertakings (家和萬事興),” “Homeland filled with happiness (幸福滿家園),” and other secular terms.
Cameras have also been installed in the church. Reportedly, the priest and churchgoers often have to gather together secretly.
Local believers told Bitter Winter that the church’s structure in Zhaojialing was altered to “sinicize” it. Religious signs on the village’s streets were also forcibly rectified. For example, signs with terms like “The Street of Our Lady of the Fields (聖母大街)” and “Gate of Heaven (上天之門)” were replaced with new ones with “The Street of Harmony (和諧大街)” and “Gate of Roses (玫瑰之門).”
Besides, the Bible verses displayed on both sides of the street were replaced with slogans praising the Communist Party….