Nun and priest beaten in Sichuan for defending Church rights

» 09/07/2011 16:38
CHINA – VATICAN

The two religious sought the restitution of Church properties seized in Kungding. The first has been demolished and a private company now uses its land. The second is used for local county officials. The nun is in hospital with serious injuries to the head and chest. China’s anti-Christian persecution is also economic in nature.

Kungding (AsiaNews/UCAN) – A Catholic nun and priest were violently attacked when they tried to get two Church properties returned to their rightful owners. The latter had been seized in Kungding, in the southwestern province of Sichuan. Local sources said that Sister Xie Yuming suffered wounds to the head and the chest and is still in hospital. Father Huang Yusong suffered only minor injuries. The two were attacked by a dozen or so unknown assailants last Saturday.

The pair was trying to assert Church rights to two properties, which had formally belonged to Kangding diocese.

The properties, a former Latin school and boy’s school, are among several that were confiscated by authorities in the 1950s but were due to be returned to the diocese.

However, the Latin school was demolished by the government and the land occupied by a private company. The boys’ school is currently used as living quarters for officials from the Moxi County government.

The sources said the attack on the religious sparked anger among local parishioners who have gathered in protest outside their church vowing to defend their rights.

Kangding, which is in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, has three priests and two nuns serving 13,000 Catholics.

The diocese has a vacant see and is currently administrated by Leshan Diocese, which is run by Mgr Lei Shiyin, who was ordained on 29 June without papal mandate.

The return of Church properties seized by the state after Mao Zedong’s takeover of power is a thorny issue.

On several occasions, the central government has said that they should be returned to their rightful owners, but the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) and the Religious Affairs Ministry have always opposed requests for restitution.

In 2005, 16 nuns were beaten in Xian for trying to get back one of their schools. The same year, dozens of priests received the same treatment in Tianjin.

By controlling all these seized Church properties, the CPCA and the ministry can earn a lot of money from real estate and other properties worth 130 billion yuan (US$ 16 billion) (see “Church endures economic persecution as the Patriotic Association tries to seize Church property,” in AsiaNews, 1 September 2006).

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