Cardinal John Tong Hon, the Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong, issued an “urgent appeal” to the Chinese government urging for officials to cease the “clean-up” campaign that has seen thousands of crosses taken down from churches in Zhejiang province.
“I sincerely and urgently appealed to the central government to contact the Zhejiang provincial government and investigate the real situation and stop all illegal cross removals,” the cardinal said in a statement issued on Wednesday, adding that officials ought to “return to the right path, placing supreme importance on the constitution, ruling the country according to the law, and governing by the law”.
Over 1,200 church crosses have been dismantled in Zhejiang since 2014, prompting widespread protest among Christian faithful in China. Despite claims from local pastors that the campaign had been suspended, officials in the province said on Tuesday that they will continue to remove “unsafe” rooftop crosses and knock over church buildings as part of a “three revise and one demolition” plan that aims at “building a more beautiful Zhejiang”. Churchgoers, however, consider the campaign an attempt to curb the spread of Christianity in China.
Zhejiang province is home to 2 million Christians, including 210,000 Catholics, according to UCA News.