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Catholics protest land grab

Demand local church be left out of redevelopment plans

Fathers Mbwi Khohi (second from left) and Benedict Hsu (third from left) answer the press (Photo: courtesy of Huang Chi-shan) Fathers Mbwi Khohi (second from left) and Benedict Hsu (third from left) answer the press (Photo: courtesy of Huang Chi-shan)
  • Francis Kuo, Taichung
  • Taiwan
  • May 28, 2012
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Around 3,000 Catholics from across Taiwan took to the street of Taichung on Saturday demanding city authorities intervene in the alleged seizure of a church in the municipality's Nantun district by a private developer.

Father Benedict Hsu, vicar-general of Taichung diocese, delivered a petition letter to City Hall containing the signatures of 25,000 supporters, demanding that the Mother of God Church be saved.

The three-hour march demonstrated a greater show of force by Catholics following a smaller scale protest by local parishioners from the church during Holy Week last month.

“If it happens to the Nantun church today, it could happen to a Kinmen church tomorrow. There could be more Church lands grabbed by consortium-developers who have been casting greedy eyes on them,” said Father Mbwi Khohi, a Congolese priest based in Nantun district.

The petition letter demands the church be left out of a private company-led redevelopment plan and designated as a special zone for religion.

It also demands a dereliction of duty investigation as the government is allowing a nearby Taoist temple to stay, while the Nantun church is being included in the redevelopment.

Some victims of redevelopment plans in other counties and cities also joined the protest.

“The dispute over the Nantun church is not an individual incident. There are too many grey areas in the redevelopment laws and thus, the other victims are also coming to support us,” Fr Khohi said.

An ad hoc group of lawyers, architects, civil servants, scholars and clergy has formed to deal with the Nantun case from legal and structural aspect. The bishops’ conference also met to discuss the issue, said Bishop Martin Su Yaowen in a statement last week.

Related reports:

Parishioners take on redevelopment company


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