Property seized during Cultural Revolution belongs to the church, parishioners say
Chinese Catholics protest in central Henan province over the return of church property confiscated by government officials during the Cultural Revolution. (Photo supplied)
About 300 Chinese Catholics in the Xinyang Diocese in central Henan province marched to the Huangchuan county government office on March 21 demanding the return of a church property and protesting the alleged beating of a nun.
Father Joseph Lu, one of two priests to lead the protest, said the church compound was confiscated during the Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1966-1976. The government compensated the church for some of the property in the 1980s, he said.
"We protest because our nun was hurt and our religious life is seriously disturbed," Father Lu told ucanews.com.
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The current occupants refused to acknowledge the property once belonged to the church, and had renovated some of the buildings while constructing new structures on the site, Father Lu said. The century-old church had no title, making it difficult for the church to prove their case, he added.
A nun who took photos on March 17 as part of a complaint to be filed with the government, was allegedly beaten by the property's occupants and hospitalized as a result, the priest said.
Father Lu said he reported the case to the county government. Despite assurances that the county would investigate, Father Lu noted that the government has rarely sided with the church in the past.
China's burgeoning real estate market makes local officials hesitant to return confiscated church land despite a 1982 mandate by the Communist Party's central committee to do so.
Hong Kong's Holy Spirit Study Center once estimated that the Patriotic Association and government officials have pocketed an estimated US$16 billion from the sale of confiscated church land.
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