China’s government regularly changes tactics in its campaign against the Catholic Church, switching from subtle pressure to outright persecution at different times and places.
In Inner Mongolia the campaign is overt.
By arresting several priests, driving several others into hiding, and closing the seminary, authorities have left the little Catholic community of Inner Mongolia without access to the sacraments.
The work of the “underground” Church in the region has been badly disrupted.
The “official” Catholic community in Inner Mongolia is led by Bishop Paul Meng Oinglu, whose claim to pastoral authority is unclear because, although he is officially recognized by the Vatican, he is also the vice-president of the Patriotic Catholic Assembly.
Pope Benedict has urged loyal Catholics to shun the latter group.
The AsiaNews service infers that the wave of repression has been undertaken in preparation for a meeting of the National Assembly and a change in leadership for the Beijing government.
Chinese authorities have frequently cracked down on Catholics just before major national events.