Chinese authorities flatten two churches, remove cross from another

(Photo: REUTERS / Jason Lee)Altar boys carry an effigy of baby Jesus as they arrive for a Christmas eve mass at a Catholic church near the city of Taiyuan, Shanxi province, December 24, 2012.

Authorities in China last week ordered the demolition of two Catholic Churches in two neighboring provinces, while another house of worship had its cross taken down.

Showing no signs of letup in its actions against Christians in the country, the government was reported to have arbitrarily reneged on agreements with church leaders regarding the demolition of the structures.

On September 15, the Jinxi Catholic Church in Hunan was torn down despite a promise from authorities it won't demolish the structure until a new church was constructed.

Changsha (Hunan) Bishop Methodius Qu Ailin said the government committed to construct a new church to replace the existing one, which had to give way for a development project.

"The authority promised to provide temporary shelter for us and asked our priest to sign an agreement on August 1.

"But before things materialized, the authority broke its promise and demolished the old church," said the bishop, reported on September 19.

A priest tried to prevent the demolition team from tearing down the church, but police officers grabbed him and placed him in detention.

Bishop Qu said he managed to secure the release of the priest the next day, while police officials apologized for the arrest.

"The priest is now staying in a hostel but we still haven't received a temporary worshipping place as promised," he continued.

While the issue on Hunan was being sorted out, authorities in Jiangxi province demolished Our Lady Church in Jingdezhen.

As with the Hunan incident, church officials said they were tricked by the government so that it would encounter less resistance in the demolition of the place of worship.

Two versions of the story floated online, and both became viral overnight.

One version said the parish priest was convinced by authorities to leave the church after they offered to discuss a reconstruction of the structure.

The priest even stayed at a hotel room the officials reserved for him. But around midnight, the priest received a call informing him about the demolition of the church.

(Photo: Weibo)Our Lady Church in Jingdezhen, China lies in ruins after it was leveled to the ground on September 15, 2014. (Photo: Weibo)

Another story mentioned that the priest had been forced into a car and driven around for hours. When he was brought back to the site, the church was in ruins.

In Zhejiang province, officials forcibly removed the cross of Jingtou Church, saying it was a violation of the law.

Lay people managed to convince authorities to have a smaller cross installed later in the day.

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