Almost all the Xinxiang apostolic prefecture church staff were removed and taken away because the atheist Chinese Communist regime does not consider it “official.” The operation, which began on 20 May and lasted two days, involved nearly 100 police officers in the northern Chinese province of Hebei and ended with the arrest of several of its members, including Bishop Zhang Weizhu, Asia News reported.
Last Thursday, at least 100 Hebei provincial police officers surrounded the building used as a diocesan seminary in Shaheqiao, a city in Hebei province about 170 km south of Beijing. According to the same source, the police entered and arrested four priests, teachers at the seminary, three other priests doing pastoral work, and 10 seminarians attending classes at the factory.
The CCP does not recognize the Xinxiang apostolic prefecture, so all activities of priests, seminarians, and faithful are considered “illegal” and “criminal.”
Monsignor Joseph Zhang Weizhu, 63, was ordained bishop in 1991 and has been imprisoned several times. The apostolic prefecture of Xinxiang has 100,000 faithful.
Police seized all the personal belongings of priests and seminarians and closed the small factory, owned by a Hebei Catholic, used as a seminary.
The raid is believed to have been planned some time ago due to the large deployment of police forces, who also moved from house to house, searching for seminarians who may have escaped.
Following the controversial agreement that the CCP renewed with the Vatican in October 2020, the persecution of Catholic believers, which the regime considers unofficial, has increased.
In this agreement, the communist authorities, with the endorsement of the Pope, can select bishops within the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is considered a ‘screen’ to cover the supposed ‘freedom of belief’ in the country and allows the CCP to run the church in China, even though it is openly atheist. Since it took power in 1949, one of its main objectives has been to exterminate the faith that was traditionally rooted in its millenary culture.
Recently, former Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, following the release of the US State Department’s annual Religious Freedom Report, which documents widespread human rights violations against believers in China, urged the Vatican to reconsider its permissive and uncritical stance towards the CCP.
“The moral authority of the Vatican is significant,” he added. “You don’t negotiate with evil. You kick it out.” he said.
And he said, “We really pressed the Vatican not to enter in to extending their agreement with the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops, and I hope they would look at this report and say ‘this is not a regime we should be negotiating with.”
Brownback sees the CCP as a direct enemy of all faiths and regards the CCP as the only obstacle to religious freedom in China.
“They have trouble with any sort of allegiance to a higher moral authority — to God — and they are going at it — hammer and tongs—on everybody,” he said, including Tibetan Buddhists, Uighurs, and Falun Gong, the former ambassador also said, according to Breitbart.
Despite constant warnings from conservative Catholics, Pope Francis is silent on the Chinese communist regime’s widespread religious persecution. He has even praised China, insisting that the CCP protects religious freedom and that its “churches are full.”
The Christian community is not the only religious minority suffering persecution in China. Thousands of Uighur Muslims are today forced into concentration camps and subjected to forced labor. Likewise, the Falun Gong spiritual practice (also known as Falun Dafa) has been brutally persecuted since 1999, with torture and the forced removal of organs.