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Funds for new church run out

Arrest of priest over killing deals fundraising efforts severe blow

  • ucanews.com reporter, Hailun
  • China
  • September 30, 2011
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Parishioners in Hailun city, in northeastern Heilongjiang province, may have to celebrate their Christmas Mass outdoors this year as funds for the building of a new Sacred Heart of Jesus Church have dried up.

Fundraising efforts received a blow after the parish priest, Father Shang Kanfa, was arrested for allegedly killing the ex-husband of a parishioner during a fight last month.

The priest was reportedly trying to intervene in a dispute between the couple when the fight broke out.

Acting parish priest, Fr Dou Chuanguo, said yesterday that fund-raising efforts have come to a halt since Fr Shang was detained.

Fr Shang, who has served Hailun parish for 19 years, had collected 5 million yuan (US$783,000), which was spent on the first phase of the construction.

According to Fr Dou, the roof and interior will need another 4.5 million yuan.

As a result, “it is hard to guarantee parishioners will live a normal religious life during the six-month-long winter,” said the priest, who issued a renewed appeal to kindhearted people on the Internet last week.

The parish has seen a sharp rise in the number of worshippers over the past few years, prompting the need for a bigger church, he explained.  When it is eventually finished, the new Sacred Heart of Jesus Church should hold 3,000 people, Fr Dou added.

In the meantime, a warehouse is being used as a temporary venue. However, during Christmas, more than 3,000 people, many from rural areas will come to celebrate the festive season.

“If the new church is not finished, many of them will not be able to get in the warehouse and will have to brave temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius,” Fr Dou said.

Meanwhile, no one has been allowed to see Fr Shang except two lawyers hired by his family and several laypeople.

Parishioners say they will submit a petition signed by hundreds of the city’s Catholics supporting Fr Shang once his case goes to court.

Related reports:

Man dies in fight with priest

China’s Churches unite in grief at funeral
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