Now that the world is reeling from the coronavirus that originated in Communist China and the world is distracted by its own problems, the Chinese Communist government has reportedly resumed its persecution of Catholic and Protestant churches, removing crosses from buildings belonging to the state-run churches.
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports, “According to a report from UCA News, priests say they are cooperating in the removal of exterior crosses in hopes that entire church buildings will not be demolished or converted into a building for secular use.”
Father Chen from Anhui told UCA News that persecution of the Catholic Church had grown stronger since the Vatican signed an agreement with China in September 2018 on appointing bishops. UCA News noted, “The provisional agreement allows the pope to appoint and veto bishops appointed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The agreement aims to merge the state-run open church with the underground church loyal to the Vatican.”
Chinese officials reportedly removed the cross from the top of Our Lady of the Rosary Church on April 18. On April 19 a cross was allegedly removed from a church in Suzhou City in Anhui; on April 27, in Hefei City, authorities reportedly removed a cross off a building for a Protestant church.
In October 2018, Cardinal Zen, a retired bishop of Hong Kong, wrote in The New York Times of the 2018 provisional agreement between the Pope Francis at the Vatican and Communist China:
Supporters of the deal say that it finally brings unity after longstanding division — between an underground Church loyal to the pope and an official church approved by the Chinese authorities — and that with it, the Chinese government has for the first time recognized the authority of the pope. In fact, the deal is a major step toward the annihilation of the real Church in China … Francis may have natural sympathy for Communists because for him, they are the persecuted. He doesn’t know them as the persecutors they become once in power, like the Communists in China.
Cardinal Zen continued:
When Benedict issued his famous letter to the Church of China in 2007, calling for reconciliation among all Catholics there, something incredible happened. The Chinese translation was released with errors, including one too important not to have been deliberate. In a delicate passage about how priests in the underground might accept recognition by the Chinese authorities without necessarily betraying the faith, a critical caveat was left out about how “almost always,” however, the Chinese authorities imposed requirements “contrary to the dictates” of Catholics’ conscience.
Some of us raised the issue and the text was eventually corrected on the Vatican’s website. But by then, the mistaken original had widely circulated in China, and some bishops there had understood Benedict’s historic letter as encouragement to join the state-sanctioned church.
If I were a cartoonist I would draw the Holy Father on his knees offering the keys of the kingdom of heaven to President Xi Jinping and saying, “Please recognize me as the pope.” And yet, to the underground bishops and priests of China, I can only say this: Please don’t start a revolution. They take away your churches? You can no longer officiate? Go home, and pray with your family. Till the soil. Wait for better times. Go back to the catacombs. Communism isn’t eternal.
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