Chinese authorities in the Chinese county of Qianyang bulldozed the only Catholic parish in the city to the ground, the AsiaNews.it website of the Vatican’s Pontifical Institute for Mission has reported.
A bulldozer reduced the two-story building to rubble under the supervision of a group of police. Crying women can be heard in a video provided to AsiaNews as police and faithful watch the destruction.
The Qianyang parish, part of the Diocese of Fengxiang, was located in a poor area of the west of Shaanxi Province, approximately 200 kilometres northwest of the popular tourist destination of Xian in north central China.
Xian is famed for its terracotta warriors unearthed in 1974.
The parish was made up of approximately 2000 Catholics, mainly peasants and erected with offerings from other communities in the diocese. The upper floor of the two-storey building was used for celebrations of the lirturgy.
The ground floor consisted of offices and a residence for religious sisters who provided medical aid, visits and medicines to the indigent population.
Reason behind destruction still uncertain
The reasons for the destruction are still not known.
The Diocese, led until 2017 by Bishop Luke Li Jingfeng, has a unique character in the Church in China as the only diocese where neither the faithful nor the bishop are members of the Patriotic Association, although there is an Office for Religious Affairs.
From 2017, the diocese has been led by 54 year-old Bishop Peter Li Huiyuan.
AsiaNews reported that some observers believe the violence against the parish is a way to force it to apply the new religious regulations and to have bishops and priests enrolled in the Patriotic Association.
However others pointed out that the communist cell that presides over the Qianyang government is made up of radical Maoists, for whom “religion is a fantasy that must be eradicated”.
A history of miracles?
The church of Qianyang is famous in the area: in the past, according to the faithful, some miracles have been attributed to the holy water in the parish.
Since then, many have flocked to receive holy water that is used as a physical and spiritual remedy for humans and animals.
For some believers, the destruction is due to the Maoists’ “fear of holy water,” AsiaNews reported.