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Chinese Christians - Copyright Ricky Wong / REX
World News

Chinese bishop issues "urgent appeal" against church cross removal

by Hannah Tooley

Cardinal Tong has called on central government to open an investigation into the systematic removal of crosses from religious buildings in the country.

His words echo the Anglican Archbishop of Hong Kong, Most Revd Paul Kwong, saying the Chinese government is "trampling on Christianity" by removing church crosses.

Reports from the country suggest that Zhejiang province, a particularly Christian area, has been hit hardest with in cases whole buildings being knocked down.

It is thought more than 1,000 crosses on Catholic and Protestant buildings have been removed.


Ya Village Church in Huzhou city is having the cross removed via crane. 

 The bishop has proposed prayers and fasting to share in the suffering of the faithful living in Zhejiang, according to AsiaNews.

His appeal asks the government to cease these "unlawful acts" and he says many of those crosses removed had the correct permits.

Many Christians in China think the removal is to reduce the influence of Christian communities in society - which has seen a growing population of believers.

Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, Bishop of Wenzhou, another province, has also proposed rosaries and fasting to protect the faith and the crosses.

Cardinal Tong's appeal reads: "The Sufferings of the Cross - an Urgent Appeal:

"The cross is the sign most representative of the Christian faith. As Christians, we must follow Christ. That requires us to carry the cross together with Jesus Christ.

"Over the past two years, the crosses erected at over a thousand churches, Christian or Catholic, in Zhejiang province have been dismantled by force. Those dismantled include many that have been lawfully constructed with permits. In some of these incidents, members of the clergy and congregation, during their lawful act of defending their faith, have been detained, causing a lot of tension in local parishes. These incidents have caused much anxiety among Christians, local and overseas, about the policies of the government in regard to freedom of religion.

"With utmost sincerity and urgency, I wish to make the following appeal:

"That the Central Government and authorities concerned liaise with the provincial authorities in Zhejiang province to investigate into what has happened; that all unlawful acts of dismantling crosses be stopped; and that all the parties concerned stick to the principle of "the supremacy of the constitution, the rule of law and ruling the country according to the law.

"That all Catholics in Hong Kong choose some forms of penance, such as fast and abstinence, and that they especially pray for religious freedom, the dignity of the faith, and share the sufferings of their fellow Christians in Zhejiang."

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