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Underground Catholic priests removed in China

Authorities send two priests packing in Gansu province for holding a summer camp for youngsters

ucanews.com reporter, Gansu

ucanews.com reporter, Gansu

Updated: August 09, 2018 05:15 AM GMT
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Underground Catholic priests removed in China

Tianshui Diocese's open church holds a summer camp for young people in 2017. Two underground priests of Maijiqu Ganquan Catholic Church have been removed after being accused of holding a summer camp. (Photo by Faith Weekly)

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Two underground parish priests in China's Gansu province have been removed after being accused of holding a summer camp for a youth group at their church.

Father Wang Yiqin of Hui county and Father Li Shidong of Leling city of Shandong province were serving Maijiqu Ganquan Catholic Church in Tianshui Diocese.

Tianshui Municipal Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee has sent a letter asking the local branch of the state-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association to send personnel to replace the priests, who were accused of holding a summer camp for Bosco Youth Group at the church and sent back to their hometowns.

On July 21, the committee issued a letter stating that no association personnel were involved with the church, which had become a base for underground clergy.

It asked the association to appoint personnel "to strengthen the management of religious affairs in accordance with the law and according to the regulations on religious affairs."

Father Zhao Jianzhang of Tianshui's open church is deputy director and secretary-general of the Gansu Catholic Patriotic Association and Catholic Administration Commission.

He told ucanews.com that he had been informed of the incident and the parish office had received a letter but he was out of town and would handle the incident when he returned.

"There are people in the government who want to break the current situation. They do not allow the underground church to exist and must convert it to be open because only Tianshui in northwest China still has an underground community," a source said.

Maijiqu Ganquan Catholic Church is one of only two underground churches in Tianshui Diocese.

Built in 1921, the church grounds cover 7,000 square meters containing a church, complex buildings and houses. The church has been approved by Yuanbeidao district government.

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