Christian funerals have been banned in some areas of China as the communist government begins to enforce a set of repressive regulations on religious practices.

In the eastern province of Zhejiang, the government has put in force a set of Regulations on Centralized Funeral Arrangement, which bans priests from attending funeral prayers outside a religious place.

The government claims the new rules aim to “get rid of bad funeral customs and establish a scientific, civilized and economical way of funerals.”

“Clerical personnel are not allowed to participate in funerals” at homes and “no more than 10 family members of the deceased are allowed to read scriptures or sing hymns in a low voice,” the rules state. The new rules began to take effect recently, although enacted on Dec. 1, said a Catholic in Wenzhou Diocese in Zhejiang.

The regulations strictly ban “religious activities outside religious places, so the priest will not be able to hold funeral prayers outside the church,” he told UCA News.Huang Jian, also of Wenzhou, said that after the new regulations were announced, “priests are not attending religious funeral ceremonies.”In villages priests could visit parishioners’ homes but could not conduct any religious ceremonies or prayers, he told UCA News.Father Guo of Henan parish, which is part of the open church approved by the state, told UCA News that government officials have asked them to strictly follow the Regulations on Religious Affairs.“Otherwise there would be penalties. The punishment could even be closing the church and cancelling the priest’s priesthood certificate, letting the priest go home,” he said.

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