'Unprecedented' show of protest against controversial campaign, observers say
Christians in Hong Kong pray outside the central government's Liaison Office on Aug. 2. (Photo supplied)
More Christian and Catholic groups and bishops, both inside and outside China, are protesting the Chinese government's cross-removal campaign in Zhejiang province.
On July 31, two separate groups of priests who graduated from the Central and Southern Seminary in Wuchang and the Sheshan Seminary in Shanghai condemned the campaign in public statements circulated on the Internet, with one group comparing it to the persecution that occurred during the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.
One of the priests, who identified himself as Father Ambrose, told ucanews.com that he and 20 classmates from the 2001 class at Central and Southern Seminary lobbied their respective bishops to protest the campaign.
“The prelates may need more time to think over and consider the timing of their remarks. In order to not pressure them, we decided to speak out in the name of our graduate class,” Fr. Ambrose said.
In a separate statement, nine priests who graduated from Sheshan Seminary in 2000 compared the cross-removal campaign to the killings of scholars during the Qin Dynasty, 221-206 B.C., and the widespread persecution that occurred during the Cultural Revolution.
Three underground bishops who are not recognized by the government — John Wang Ruowang of Tianshui, Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar and Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou — have also spoken out, joining the voices of several government-approved bishops, who spoke in protest of the campaign in late July.
In Hong Kong, the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission and several Protestant churches held a prayer service outside the central government’s Liaison Office Aug. 3, saying the cross-removal campaign was persecuting Christians.
Participants displayed crosses and banners that read “can’t remove the cross in our hearts.”
“It is unprecedented to see more and more Catholic groups and dioceses in China speaking out against the cross-removal campaign, as they used to be very low-key,” Or Yan-yan, commission project officer, told ucanews.com.
“Since the campaign began, the Wenzhou authorities pressured the Church economically to remain silent. Today, some protesters face threats and being arrested on political charges, yet the faithful still choose to speak out. You can imagine how grave the situation is for them,” she said.
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