Chinese Cross Removals Spread To Other Provinces

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A Chinese government-led cross demolition campaign has spread from Wenzhou to other dioceses in Zhejiang province with five Catholic churches having their crosses removed last week.

The crosses on churches in Songmun, Xinhe, Muyu and Dasi of Taizhou diocese as well as the Xiaoshan Sacred Heart of Jesus Church of Hangzhou diocese were demolished July 2.

Authorities said the crosses were removed in order to “Sinicize” the churches, a local source in Taizhou told ucanews.com. “When we asked the officials what means by “Sinicize” the churches, they said they did not know either but they have to remove the crosses anyway,” he added.

“It is obviously an action directed against Christianity,” the source said.

“Sinicization” of religion was first mentioned by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the central United Front Work Department meeting in May.

Under the policy, churches must adapt to Chinese society by using symbols that reflect Chinese culture under Communist rule.

A Catholic source in Hangzhou said he witnessed the cross removal at the Xiaoshan church.
“The parish priests are left alone to face the political pressure in the campaign. There is little support from their hierarchy, and there is no united action among dioceses in the same province,” said the source who asked not to be named.

“The authorities told our priests either allow the cross to be removed or have the whole church building demolished. It was a dilemma and they were inclined to compromise,” he said.