Chinese shrine off limits to pilgrims

A Catholic shrine in China has been saved from destruction, however police continue to refuse entry to pilgrims other than locals.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Carmel in Tianjiajing was built a century ago. It was badly damaged during World War II and the Cultural Revolution. More recently, it has been a popular pilgrim site, with 40,000 to 50,000 visitors each year.

AsiaNews reported in May that local authorities banned the annual pilgrimage, which had become a national tradition. They also revoked permits organisers were required to hold, calling the pilgrimages “illegal religious activities.”

In addition, a ban was issued denying the Church the right to use public areas, requisitioning the shrine’s own compound and threatening to destroy it.

Although pressures from local Catholics have stopped the demolition plan, the ban on pilgrimages remains.

China says Bible ban “rumour”

Chinese officials have rejected media reports which have said that Bibles would be banned form the Olympic games.

Catholic News Agency published an article sourced from an Italian newspaper.

The China Daily reported that Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the Beijing Olympic organisers “did not and would not issue such a rule and this is a total rumor.”

"According to the Chinese laws, foreigners are allowed to bring in religious objects or materials, be it print or audio or video, for personal use."

Beijing Olympics Media Centre director Li Zhanjun said a religious service centre will be set up in the Olympic Village and religious services, from Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu to Buddhist, will be available to athletes next year.

SOURCE
Our Lady of Carmel shrine in Tianjiajing safe for now (Asia News, 12/11/07)
Religious freedom to be respected at Games (China Daily, 9/11/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
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