Believers attend a service at the unofficial catholic church in Majhuang village, Hebei Province in China, Dec. 11, 2016. Officials from China’s Ruling Communism Party and Pope Francis tried to improve Catholic-related religious relationships this month. However, the two groups did not agree on who should appoint bishops. Thomas Peter / Reuters
In a shocking violation of religious freedom, two underground Catholic priests were recently detained in Hebei Province, China, and forced to study the Communist government’s orders on how Christianity is to be practiced.
UCA News.com reported that the priests in question were identified as Father Su Guipeng and Father Zhao He from the Xuanhua Diocese.
Zhao was reportedly taken away by United Front Work Department of Yangyuan County personnel last week, who took his phone and placed him in detention at a hotel, putting him under constant surveillance by guards.
While in detention the priest was forced to recognize the state-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and to study the country’s revised regulations on religious practice.
Su was also reportedly taught government policies during house arrest.
A source said that the news agency had warned families from Xuanhua that they would be fined and held if they were found helping priests.
Under the country’s Regulations for Religious Affairs that came into force in February, religious organizations must register with one of five state-sanctioned patriotic religious associations, which are supervised by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA). These rules include restrictions on religious education and the locations and times of religious celebrations. They also prohibit online religious activity from being monitored by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA).
Earlier this month, Pastor Huang Xiaoning from Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church (GBRC) was arrested for “disobedience” to the regulations.
The church has been targeted for months, with authorities shutting down services and harassing believers.
In August, police broke into the church service and demanded Pastor Huang stop preaching. Huang demanded that they treat Huang with respect and not cut off his preaching.
“You don’t know the severe transgression you have committed by interrupting the sacred worship,” he said. After my sermon, I will be there to help you. “
China Aid notes that in total, the authorities listened to the sermon for 30 minutes. The service ended and Huang thanked the congregation for their support. Brothers and sisters [in Christ], who are part of the congregation, should be treasured more every Sunday gathering. Thank you also to the Lord for directing those police officers to our church, and giving them half an hour of listening to the sermon. I pray that the Lord will have mercy on them, and open their hearts. We pray that the Lord will give us the courage to courageously testify about the Lord to them.
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