This article is about authorities’ suppression of Roman Catholic churches, but it carries ominous implications also for the Orthodox Christians of China, and for all the Christians of that land. The Chinese government is cracking down decisively upon Christian groups that are not officially recognized by the Chinese state, and the Orthodox Church of China is one of those groups.
The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, urgently calls upon the international human rights community and the United Nations to take note of these actions of the Chinese government and take all necessary and possible steps to compel the Chinese government to grant full religious freedom to all its citizens.
“Chinese Christians warned not to speak about persecution,” UCA News, July 9, 2019:
As the Chinese government continues to suppress religious freedom, Christianity is facing the forcible removal of crosses and demolition of churches across the vast nation. However, threatened by the authorities and fearing retaliation, some Catholic Church members dare not disclose what is happening to the outside world, causing a blackout of all news on the subject.
The communist regime began to severely suppress the Church in Henan province last year and since then the persecution has spread to the neighboring region of Hebei. Church sources in the latter say they have been threatened by authorities and dare not reveal the true facts to the outside world.
The crosses of some churches in Hebei’s Handan Diocese were forcibly removed in May and since then all news about the demolition of churches has been blocked by authorities. A local Catholic, who identified himself only as John, told ucanews.com that authorities had forbidden church members from discussing the incidents, warning they could expect to face reprisals. He explained that the retaliation might include the demolition of more crosses and churches, even the detention of clerics. Such acts of retaliation had scared some pastors into silence, he added.
Father Francis from Hebei also pointed out that many churches in the province were facing demolition and redevelopment for other uses. However, he admitted that local Catholics and priests did not dare to release news and photos as they feared retaliation by authorities.
“Once relevant photos are released, even though the specific location is not identified, you know that the authorities will investigate and find out the source of the news. This is an insidious and cunning deed,” he told ucanews.com. “Everyone wants to protect themselves. They [the government] want to make someone accountable for this. Even if it is just for show, they will spend a long time seeking revenge.”
Father Francis also noted that one diocesan leader was asked to surrender his passport and banned from going abroad after he refused to cooperate with officials.
Moreover, he added, one priest in central China faced retaliation because he referred during his homily at a Mass to a priest in a neighboring diocese who had been detained by authorities. Father Francis said: “The priest wanted to do something for the Church but did not fully understand the regulations on religious affairs.
“After being reported [by a member of the congregation], he was suspended by the government, could not say Mass and had to write a review on his alleged wrongdoing, saying that he intended to exonerate the priest who was taken away.” That priest, said Father Francis, was chairman of an association that was patriotic to China but after referring to the plight of the detained priest, he had both his church and residence searched by authorities…