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On the feast of the patroness of China, Pope Francis told Chinese Catholics he supports them in their trials.
But just days before the pope uttered these sentiments, a bishop, seven priests and 10 seminarians were arrested in a sting operation conducted by over 100 police officers in the district of Xinxiang.
The priests were arrested inside a factory being used as a seminary. The Catholic man who owned the factory was also whisked away by police.
Communist authorities are hunting down seminarians who managed to escape.
Persecution has ramped up after the secret agreement the Vatican made with communist China in 2018.
Many, like Cdl. Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, feel the Vatican has sold out faithful Catholics.
Cdl. Joseph Zen: "The situation is really bad — really bad — and I used a very harsh word; I said they have 'sold out' Church completely. Terrible things happen — incredible — and the Vatican doesn't say anything."
The national shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai was founded in 1871 in thanksgiving for Christians in that city being spared from an anti-Christian massacre.