Authorities in China’s Hebei province destroyed an underground Catholic church after its leader refused to fall in line with the country’s communist regime.

According to a report from Radio Free Asia, the underground Catholic congregation had been gathering in a temporary structure in the Youtong village of Luancheng District in the city of Shijiazhuang.

After the congregation failed to comply with the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, a state-sanctioned organization giving President Xi Jinping control over parishes in the communist country, authorities demolished the church while its leader, Dong Baolu, was in the hospital for hemiplegia. Parishioners didn’t fight back against the demolition.

In 2020, the Vatican renewed a controversial agreement with the CCP. While the deal’s details have remained undisclosed, it grants the Chinese government permission to propose names for new bishops to the Vatican through its Catholic Patriotic Association. The pope has veto power over the final decision.

Catholic churches, like all houses of worship in the country, can only operate in China if registered with the communist government and under its control. There are five controlling bodies in China: the Buddhist Association of China, the Chinese Taoist Association, the Islamic Association of China, the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement, and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

As CBN News reported earlier this year, the CCP has exhibited quite an intense grip on believers, even to the point of rewriting Scripture through the lens of communism.

Todd Nettleton, the spokesperson for the persecution watchdog Voice of the Martyrs, told CBN’s Faithwire, “This is a project that the Chinese Communist Party announced in 2019. At the time, they said it would be about a 10-year process … to release a new translation of the Bible.”

The censored version of the Bible will reportedly include Confucian and Buddhist ideals, ultimately establishing a reading of Scripture that “would really support the Communist Party,” Nettleton said.

“The issue for the Chinese Communist Party is control; it is always about control,” he explained of the CCP’s motivation for editing the Bible. “And they see the … Christian message as something that would take control away from the communist party.”

Sadly, the Chinese government needed to destroy this house of worship due to non-compliance. Perhaps the government could’ve discussed making changes again once the church’s leader got out of the hospital. Maybe the government would’ve considered suspending the church’s services until the leader got out of the hospital and the changes were made. However, destroying a house of worship, whether underground or otherwise, is unnecessary.

We should hope that the congregation of this church will attempt to rebuild at another location or go through the proper channels to register with the government. Perhaps some members will choose to worship at another church, but the thing that matters most is they’re hearing the word of God.

The Chinese government is unlikely to change how they operate, so the best thing citizens can do is adapt around them. We should keep the worshippers in China in our prayers and hope they continue to praise God.

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