08 July 2015, The Tablet

Church cross removals 'part of Chinese government policy'

by Barto Joly de Lotbiniere

The Chinese Government's growing campaign to remove crosses from churches is a move to "Sinicise" religion in China, officials have reportedly said.

Crosses were removed from five Catholic churches in the eastern province of Zhejiang last week. Many crosses have already been removed from churches in Wenzhou diocese since late 2013 but the churches targeted last week were in the nearby dioceses of Taizhou and Hangzhou.

A source in Taizhou told UCA News authorities said the crosses were removed in order to “sinicize” the churches.

“When we asked the officials what means by ‘sinicize’ the churches, they said they did not know either but they have to remove the crosses anyway,” he added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping first coined the term during a meeting of the United Front Work Department in May.

Under the policy, churches must adapt to Chinese society by using symbols that reflect Chinese culture under communist rule.

Some party members believe that religious organisations operating in China, including those which originated abroad, lack appropriate of Chinese culture.

Radio Free Asia reported that a member of Weiling Protestant church in Zhejiang, which also had its cross forcibly removed last week, said: “We didn't dare to comment, because if we'd spoken out of line, they would have detained us."

A source in the Archdiocese of Hangzhou told UCA News that officials had claimed that only the Catholic cathedral and two Protestant churches will be saved from the cross removal campaign.

Above: One of the Catholic churches targeted last week. Photo: via UCA News

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