Under the terms of the arrangement, Beijing may propose candidates for bishop, but the Pope must give final approval.
The agreement was intended to regularize the situation of the Church in China, moving towards a unification between the underground and state-sponsored branches. The Vatican-China deal, which Rome termed “pastoral” rather than “diplomatic” has been roundly criticized by human rights groups and some Church leaders, including Cardinal Joseph Zen.
Zen, the former bishop of Hong Kong wrote in a column for the New York Times this week that the agreement was a step toward the “annihilation” of the Catholic Church in China.
Videos taken by locals and posted on AsiaNews this week show authorities using cranes to remove statues from the two Marian shrines; in another video jackhammers can be heard demolishing the Our Lady of Bliss shrine.
The demolitions are the latest in a series actions taken against religious sites, which have continued throughout 2018.
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In December, a Catholic church in Shaanxi province was completely demolished, despite having previously obtained the necessary legal permits from the Religious Affairs Bureau, according to AsiaNews.
In late February, local government authorities forcibly removed the crosses, statues, and bell towers from a Catholic church, according to a Union of Catholic Asian News report.
In May, human rights group China Aid reported that a Christian church in China’s Henan province had been “completely razed”, and 40 parishioners that tried to stop the destruction were detained.