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Chinese authorities confiscate church council's official seal

Without it the Christian Council cannot issue valid official documents
Chinese authorities confiscate church council's official seal
Published: July 17, 2015 09:40 AM GMT
Updated: July 16, 2015 11:49 PM GMT

Provincial authorities in Zhejiang have removed the official seal of the local Christian Council after the council issued a statement demanding an end to the campaign to remove church crosses.

The open letter demanded that the provincial government “stop immediately such ridiculous acts that split the party and the people.”

The statement added that more than 1,200 churches have had crosses removed in the past 18 months and that this had hurt the sentiment of more than 2 million Protestants.

The Protestant council issued their statement July 10 five days after provincial Catholic Church leaders released a similar report.

“Shortly after the letter was issued, the Zhejiang Ethnic and Religious Affair Commission demanded that the Christian Council withdraw it. It removed the council's official seal after that demand was rejected,” said a Protestant preacher in Wenzhou who identified himself as Luke.

A Chinese researcher who requested anonymity told ucanews.com that this confiscation of the official seal is tantamount to “removing” some of the council's authority.

“It cannot issue another statement of protest as the seal represents the validity of an official document,” he explained.

“The Rev. Joseph Gu of Chongyi Church, president of the council, also has his freedom restricted,” Luke told ucanews.com.

In Hong Kong, Dr. Anthony Lam Sui-ki, senior researcher at the Catholic diocesan Holy Spirit Study Center has warned that the Protestant group should “make the incident public to prevent the authority issuing a statement on behalf of the council and misleading the faithful.”

Lam, commenting on the two public statements by the government-sanctioned Protestant and Catholic Church councils pointed out that “they are certainly useful” in bringing pressure on the authorities.

However, ucanews.com learned that the provincial Catholic Patriotic Association and the Church Affairs Commission have yet to receive a response from the relevant government departments and Church leaders in Beijing.

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