The Ji'an Church in Jiangxi Province, China, is emblematic of the communist rule over Chinese Catholics. Of recent construction, thanks to the donations of the faithful, the building was desecrated to become a place now dedicated to the worship of the masters of Beijing.
The newspaper Bitter Winter, relayed on 29 November 2019 by the agency Gaudium Press, revealed the facts that occurred in Ji’an, early autumn: “at the end of September 2019, local officials ordered the parish to remove the name of the church on the entrance panel, and to paint the slogan ‘Follow the Party, Obey the Party, and Be Grateful to the Party.’”
But the local authorities did not just intervene outside the place of worship. Bitter Winter reports, “What has hurt the congregations the most was the removal of a painting of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child, later discarded into a dark corner of the church. Instead, a portrait of president Xi Jinping was hung in the center of one of the walls, surrounded by propaganda slogans on both sides. A few days later, officials confiscated the keys to the church and locked all its doors and windows, to discourage worshipers still praying in the church they had built at the price of many sacrifices.”
A similar case was reported, again in September 2019, at a meeting place used by underground Catholics in the Poyang area of the same province. The local authorities proceeded to remove a cross, an image of the Blessed Virgin and religious banners; similarly installing portraits of the master of Beijing and Mao Zedong.
For Jiangxi devotees deprived of their church, and victims of both hidden and silent persecution, the situation is clear: “It is better to worship God at home than to join a community of the faithful under the control of the authorities.”
In addition, the state now intervenes directly in private homes: the Chinese administration goes to homes to remove the cross and images of the saints, ordering them to be replaced with the only authorized deity in China, President Xi Jinping. In case of resistance or refusal, the secular arm threatens the recalcitrant to remove their allowance for poor households or pensions, with a well-oiled rhetoric: “Since you receive the support of Xi Jinping, you must hang his portrait. He is number one in China.”
The agreement reached between China and the Holy See in September 2018 appears more and more like a market of fools: if all the bishops are now relieved of their censorship and submitted in theory to the authority of the Holy Father, the “sinisation” of Christianity is accelerating dramatically, and the persecution is taking on a new dimension.