China demolishes Church

From our man in Pingtan (Fujian Province, China): Police have destroyed a church in the coastal village of Yutouchang and are to demolish another in a neighbouring village.

Around 500 policemen and local officials appeared at 8am (local time) on 1 September to destroy a church of the unsanctioned Catholic community of Fujian. The church stood in Yutouchang village centre on the island of Pingtang.

For some time the island off the Chinese coast has been home to a Catholic community estimated at 10,000. AsiaNews sources in China revealed that the police arrived with bulldozers to destroy the building and beating believers who sought to stop the demolition. Two people were injured.

The church was completed in July 2006 and covered an area of 1000 square metres, and costing 400,000 yuan (40,000 euros).The police further announced the pending destruction of another church that is under construction in Ao Qian village. In recent years, Ao Qian’s community of 400 Catholics, mostly fishermen, contributed tithes to raise more than 500,000 yuan to build the church. The building covers an area of 250 square metres and has more than one floor.

Our source said: “Our people sacrificed themselves, even saving on food, to be able to build this church. But now the government ignores the blood and sweat of these poor people and is destroying everything. All this is completely ridiculous and we feel pained and indignant!” The police justify these demolitions by citing “security reasons”.

China allows the practice of religion only in places of worship registered by the Religious Affairs Department and considers practice in illegal places of worship to be a threat to security. In Fujian, there is a strong unofficial community that refuses to be registered for fear that it would have to submit to controls by the Patriotic Association, which aims to create a national church detached from the Holy See.

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