The elderly bishop of Wenzhou joined around 20 clergy last week in a protest outside government offices in Wenzhou city to challenge the removal of crosses from churches in Zhejiang province. It was the first time the Catholic Church took the cause to the streets. According to an eyewitness, local Catholics were moved “to see the bishop leading the struggle to retain the symbol of their faith”.
Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang of Wenzhou, 89, stood for nearly two hours leaning on his walking stick at the 24 July protest, which followed a diocesan meeting earlier in the day. Several police officers appeared at the scene but did not take action.
Bishop Zhu issued an open letter last August, calling on Catholics to defend their rights and dignity in the face of the cross-removal campaign. Zhejiang has a Catholic population of 210,000 with Wenzhou diocese being the largest.
Wenzhou City is often called “China’s Jerusalem”, and is also a stronghold of the “unofficial” Church community with about 120,000 members. Around 360 church buildings and crosses have been demolished already this year in and around Wenzhou.
Above: Clergy protest in front of Wenzhou government offices. Photo: via UCAN