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Catholics say church was destroyed by arsonists

Unscrupulous developers are prime suspects

The church was the last building standing in Caibang village The church was the last building standing in Caibang village
  • ucanews.com reporter, Wuhan
  • China
  • September 17, 2012
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Members of the congregation in a small city in central China say their church may have been deliberately burned down at the end of last week.

The church had been the only building left in Caibang village near Xiantao City, Hubei province, after it held firm when developers paid off locals to move out last year to make way for new apartments.

A local Catholic layman who declined to be identified accused developers of burning down houses in the area when the inhabitants were out, forcing them to accept compensation so construction could go ahead.

“Nobody shows any concern about such an evil practice,” she said.

Father Zhang Wei, a young priest of Hanyang diocese, reported the fire in his blog. He claimed that the developer did not offer compensation to the Church as promised, which would have allowed it to move to another site.

The wooden altar was burned to the ground while the roof was gutted by fire.

“Unless flammable liquids were sprinkled in the church, it would not have ignited easily,” he said.

He added that worshippers were forced to abandon the Church after Easter celebrations this year, when authorities cut off water and electricity supplies to the house.

Fr. Zhang also claimed that the police have so far failed to seriously investigate the fire.

The church was rebuilt in 1993 after being dismantled in 1953 during the political upheavals which marked the start of Mao Zedong’s Communist rule.

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