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Ignoring conservationists, congregation demolish Taiwan church

Local government ire amid debate on its historic value

ucanews.com reporters, Hong Kong

ucanews.com reporters, Hong Kong

Published: June 19, 2018 08:06 AM GMT

Updated: June 19, 2018 08:07 AM GMT

Ignoring conservationists, congregation demolish Taiwan church

St. Joseph's Church of Chiaohsi village of Ilan County in Taiwan before it was demolished. (Photo supplied)

Chiaoshi St. Joseph's Church in Taiwan, listed by the government as a historic building late last year, was demolished by local Catholics on June 6 on the grounds that it was not worthy of being preserved.

Local historical conservationists had applied to the Cultural Affairs Bureau in May last year to ensure preservation of the unused church, which is located in Chiaohsi village of Ilan County.

However, in November the Ilan County Cultural Resources Review Committee, on the basis of insufficient information, only issued a provisional 'historic site' approval that expired at the end of April.

Before authorities could renew the protection order, the church was destroyed by members of the church's congregation after church officials from the Congregation of the Mission (CM) made the decision to have it demolished.

Father Bintoro Yohanes Kusno, CM's former provincial superior, told ucanews.com he didn't agree that the church should have been classed as a historic monument. The church was only 55 years old and it did not have any distinctive architectural design values, he said.

He added that structural cracks in the structure would have been too expensive to repair.

Father Kusno said that government preservation policies were inhibiting the church from building a center that would be designed for local handicapped children and their families.

The Ilan County government issued a media release on June 6 stating that the congregation had violated the law by not applying for a demolition permit.

However, county officials noted that the maximum penalty in local Taiwanese dollars was only equivalent to a US$100 fine. The demolition has upset the local historical conservation group.

The church had not been used in two years and the other buildings that make up the complex — offices, dormitories, a kindergarten and a rehabilitation hospital — have not been used for around a decade.

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