April 10, 2019

Location: Fengxiang County, Shaanxi

Participants: About two hundred

In April 2019, about two hundred Catholics held a sit-in protest to prevent the Marian Shrine of Mujiaping in Fengxiang County, Shaanxi from being destroyed. The demolition reflects the local government’s attempt to tighten its control over Catholic affairs in the  Fengxiang County Catholic Diocese. The protestors were unhappy about further demolitions of Catholic buildings by the local government.

On the morning of April 10, over six hundred government cadres and policemen were dispatched to Mujiaping Village, Fengxiang, to demolish the Marian Shrine. Knowing full well of the scheduled demolition, two hundred Catholics gathered in front of the shrine. The Marian Shrine was the second Catholic building that the government planned to destroy. A week before, the Qianyang Church in the same diocese was demolished. The authorities are planning to destroy at least three more church buildings in Fengxiang.

The Fengxiang County Catholic Diocese was the only diocese in China where neither the bishop nor the faithful are members of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA, 中国天主教爱国会), the only Catholic organization recognized by the Chinese government. The CPCA oversees all Catholic affairs in Mainland China, excluding Hong Kong and Macau, which retain ties to the Vatican. The CPCA forms a system of joint meetings together with the Conference of Bishops of Catholic Churches in China to decide policies on Catholicism in the country.

Han Yingjin (韩英进), the officially-appointed bishop of Shaanxi province, pushed forward the demolition of church buildings in Fengxiang, allegedly because many of them had been built without the government’s approval. He also called on Christians in the Fengxiang Diocese to learn more about the official church and communicate more with the government. He hopes to develop a smooth relationship between the Christians in the diocese and the official church.

At the time of writing, there have been no more updates about the sit-in protest. The status of the shrine remains unknown.