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Catholics Protesting in Tianjin Prepare to Celebrate Christmas

Two days remains before the Christmas, the group of Catholics protesting in Tianjin still prepares to celebrate Christmas in the midst of police standoff. The total number of protesting priest and nun
( [email protected] ) Dec 23, 2005 05:16 PM EST

Two days remains before the Christmas, the group of Catholics protesting in Tianjin still prepares to celebrate Christmas in the midst of police standoff.

The total number of protesting priest and nuns has now decreased to 13 from 50, according to Reuters. One of the priests, Wu Jingwei, explained to Reuters that the rest of the group have returned to their home province of Shanxi late on Thursday, after the government agreed a small number of clergy could remain to discuss their claim.

The 13, including five priests, two nuns and six monks, will continue to stage the sit-in protest in an empty building which they claim belonging to their diocese- the Diocese of Taiyuan.

"We priests are still worried. This promise was only an oral one, not written," Wu said to Reuters.

On Thursday, they were surrounded by the Chinese policemen and cars outside the building, yet they insisted that they "were not going anywhere" unless they find a solution, Reuters reported.

In the midst of the deadlock and persecution, the group of 13 protestors will not give up observing the tradition of Christmas. According to Reuters, they will spend Friday preparing for Christmas, putting the finishing touches to their Nativity scene.

"We'll put up a few decorations, buy a Christmas tree and some flowers," Wu said. "We've been too busy over the last few days to really get everything organized."

The Diocese of Taiyuan is involved in the land dispute with the local government of Tianjin because the authorities have not returned the building to them as promised, even after several petition letters were sent to the Tianjin government, the Beijing central government as well as both local and national Religious Affairs Bureaus.

Wu further explained to Reuters that the case will be continued after Christmas and they may step up their campaign unless the government gives a solution.

"We think our demands are not at all over the top," he said. "If they'll talk to us after Christmas, then there'll be no need for the others to come back. But there's no guarantee a resolution won't keep being put off."