Chinese Communists Force ‘Dangerous’ Catholic Nuns from Convent

Chinese Christians pray during a midnight mass on Christmas eve at a church in Beijing, China, Friday, Dec. 24, 2004. Chinese authorities insist that Christians worship only in government-controlled churches. Despite harassment, fines and the possibility of prison, millions of Protestants and Catholics continue to attend unauthorized assemblies, including in …
AP Photo/Str

ROME — The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has forced eight Catholic nuns out of their convent in the northern province of Shanxi for their refusal to join the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

After ongoing harassment, surveillance, and intimidation from local authorities, the nuns finally opted to abandon their convent after officials ordered the removal of the cross and a dozen religious statues from the building and grounds, Bitter Winter reported this week.

“The cross is a symbol of salvation. Removing it felt like cutting our own flesh,” one of the nuns said. “Had we refused to take it away, the government would have demolished the convent.”

“Officials declared us ‘dangerous persons’ and repeatedly harassed us,” the sister said. “They asked us to write down what we had done since kindergartens [sic] and demanded to disclose everything we did over the past few months. They even wanted us to remember the license plates of the vehicles we used during our trips.”

As part of their surveillance of the nuns, local authorities had installed four surveillance cameras in the convent to monitor the sisters and their visitors.

“Three persons, a police officer and two local officials, were assigned to keep watch over us,” the nun said. “They often went inside the convent to inquire about our activities, sometimes at night. The government even hired some thugs and ruffians to harass us. They would get into the kitchen while we cooked to mess around or act lasciviously, inviting us to have dinner with them.”

According to Bitter Winter writer Zhang Feng, hostility toward the nuns is indicative of efforts by the CCP to intensify “intimidation and persecution of Catholics who refuse to join the Patriotic Church.”

Bitter Winter also noted that persecution against Catholics actually increased ahead of the renewal of the 2018 Vatican-China accord on the naming of Catholic bishops in October.

“The Communist Party is exerting even more severe suppression on religion than during the Cultural Revolution,” said one member of a Catholic church in Hebei’s Shenzhou city that was shut down in September.

Many members of the underground Catholic Church in China, which is faithful to Rome, have resisted joining the Patriotic Association for fear of being “completely controlled by the CCP, cut off from God,” one Chinese Catholic told Bitter Winter.

While China’s state-controlled media have praised the Vatican’s secret deal with the CCP, which cedes some authority of appointing bishops to Beijing, a growing coalition of human rights advocates and Church leaders have expressed their consternation at the Vatican’s silence over the egregious human rights abuses perpetrated by the CCP.

Despite the Holy See’s constant appeals to end human rights abuses elsewhere, Pope Francis and other Vatican figures have refrained from criticizing China’s horrific violations of religious liberty, presumably to avoid offending Beijing.

Earlier this year, Lord Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, said the Vatican “got it badly wrong about China” in its agreement with the Communist Party.

“It is very sad, but under Xi Jinping things have gone backwards in China,” Patten told the Tablet, a UK-based Catholic journal, adding that it was “bizarre” for the Vatican to warm to the Communist Party at this time.

“How can you have a rapprochement on religious issues with China when there are a million or more Uighur Muslims locked up in Xinjiang?” asked Patten, who has been chancellor of Oxford University since 2003.

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