In its ongoing crackdown against Catholics who refuse to submit to government authorities and sign a document of assent, Chinese Communist officials are evicting bishops and priests from certain churches and putting them on the street.
As for the document of assent -- agreeing to join the "independent" church that is "led by the Chinese Communist Party" -- officials claim the Vatican supports the measure.
As reported by Asia News on Jan. 16, Chinese police recently turned off the water and electricity at five parishes; one of the churches in Fuan has 10,000 members and a now-closed church in Saiqi has 3,000 members.
At his parish in Mindong, Bishop Vincenzo Guo Xijin and the priests who work for him were evicted. Bishop Guo "is now homeless and sleeping on the doorstep of his curia and clergy house in Luojiang," said Asia News.
The Communist police evicted the bishop by claiming that his church was in violation of "fire safety standards," the same claim they made for the other parishes. This is "merely an excuse for a white gloved persecution," said the report, and "an attempt to pressure the bishop and his priests who refuse to sign up to an 'independent' church."
The so-called independent church is "led by the Chinese Communist Party" and within the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. The CPCA was established after the Communists took over in 1949 to place Chinese Catholics in a government-controlled entity, not subject to the Pope.
Many Catholics joined the CPCA but millions refused and instead attended underground churches. An agreement signed in September 2018 between the Holy See and the Chinese government reportedly is designed to bring all Catholics into the open and allow the "independent" church to be more closely allied with Rome.
However, as reports indicate, it seems that Chinese Communist officials are only cracking down on faithful Catholics. The document signed by the Vatican and China in 2018 has not been made public.
Bishop Guo "never signed up for membership in the independent Church and thus has not been recognized by the government with the result that he has now been downgraded to the status of homeless and migrant," said Asia News. "The exact same fate has befallen many priests who refuse to sign up."
Fr. Liu Guangpin, 71, and Fr. Huang Jintong, 50, were kicked out of their churches by Chinese officials. Also, on Jan. 13 the government shut down a home for the elderly run by the Little Sisters of Mercy and Charity. Thirty people were evicted and some are now homeless, said the report.
Asia News further reported that it is aware of at least 20 priests who do not want to sign the document showing that they are joining the independent church.
The signature "is only the beginning of greater persecution and control," they fear, and turns the priests into "party officials" who agree "not to evangelize young people under the age of 18 -- which runs contrary to the Chinese Constitution -- and subjecting every initiative of evangelization to the supremacy of the Communist Party," said the report.
Communist officials with the United Front and Religious Affairs Office are also pressuring priests to follow the government rules or see their family members lose their jobs or be evicted from their homes.
Some Catholic priests who spoke with Asia News said, "It is time for the Vatican Secretariat of State to wake up from their dream ... and acknowledge that it has made a mistake, otherwise it will be complicit in this situation."