Chinese Police Disrupts Christmas Mass

Police arrests Chinese priest after breaking up Christmas mass at an unregistered church says human-rights watchdog.
( [email protected] ) Dec 27, 2004 09:22 PM EST

Last Friday, over 200 officers broke into an unregistered Catholic church in Eastern China – disrupting Christmas mass and arresting the church’s priest in the process. At least 50 of the officers were reportedly armed at the time of the incident. In the process of making the arrest, officers demolished the makeshift pulpit, seats, stage, and entrance gate.

Yesterday, the Hong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy reported that no less than 2,000 gathered to hold mass on Christmas Eve. Shortly thereafter, police officers stormed in announced. As mass attendants fled, police quickly cuffed the priest Wang Zhongfa and hustled him away to an awaiting police vehicle.

Wang, 70, had stayed one year in prison for leading unregistered religious services. In a twist, Wang was arrested in the same courtyard that served as the makeshift church. The incident had occurred in the Zhejiang Province, Cangnan Province, Lupu Township. The owner of the courtyard, identifying himself as Lin, had allowed gatherings there on multiple occasions.

Authorities reportedly regard the Lin family courtyard as being one of the largest unregistered gathering point for Catholics. The government of China only allows religious activities in registered locations. Millions, however, worship in unregistered churches to avoid to the strict government regulations imposed on all religious activity – such as only issuing state-approved Bible translations. Amongst the passages censored from the Bible are those dealing with Christ’s resurrection, a key message in the Bible.

At the time of this writing, there has been no statement released by the police or the government concerning this incident. So far, only one woman claiming to be a Lupu resident told the Associated Press that she “did not know about any recent crackdown there.” Thus far, it is not clear whether any of the 2,000 worshipers were injured during the crackdown. As of now, government sources have remained silent in regards to Wang’s current condition and situation.