SEVEN CHURCHES AND COMMUNITIES SUPPRESSED IN QIQIHAR DIOCESE

Light of truth

At least seven churches and their communities have been suppressed in recent months in the diocese of Qiqihar, whose bishop, Msgr Giuseppe Wei Jingyi is recognized by the Holy See, but not by the government. Members of the United Front, police, representatives of the Religious Affairs Bureau entered the churches while mass was being celebrated, interrupted the liturgical services, chased the faithful away, threatened them and decreed the closure of the communities. The priests were asked to leave the territory if they did not want to be forcibly expelled. The suppressed communities are all “underground,” that is unregistered. However, until now they had good relations with the local authorities. There are two curious facts: first of all the suppression began at the end of September, shortly after the signing of the agreement between China and the Vatican (22 September) and the lifting of the excommunication of the official bishop of the area, Msgr Giuseppe Yue Fushen of Harbin; secondly, it should be emphasized that Msgr Wei, despite being an underground bishop, also enjoyed good relations with the authorities. The dynamics of the suppressions reflect the implementation of the new regulations for religious activities (launched in February 2018), which provide for the elimination of the underground Church. The implementation has been ongoing since the end of September, as if the China-Vatican agreement had precipitated the times: as a sign of challenge, or of the united front’s certainty towards the Vatican.

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