Communist officials have replaced two underground Gansu province parish priests who were accused of holding a summer camp for a youth group at their church.
Father Wang Yiqin of Hui county and Father Li Shidong of Leling in Shandong province had been serving at Maijiqu Ganquan Church in Tianshui Diocese, which had allegedly become a base for underground clergy.
Last month, the Tianshui Municipal Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee accused the two underground priests of holding a camp for the Bosco Youth Group at their church and requested that the state-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which has no allegiance to Rome, send personnel to replace them.
The underground priests were reportedly sent back to their hometowns.
The government’s Religious Affairs Committee asked the Patriotic Association to appoint new personnel “to strengthen the management of religious affairs in accordance with the law and according to the regulations on religious affairs.”
“There are people in the government who want to break the current situation. They do not allow the underground church to exist and must convert it to be open because only Tianshui in northwest China still has an underground community,” a local source told UCA News.
The Maijiqu Ganquan Church, built in 1921, is one of only two underground churches in Tianshui Diocese.
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