According to a report in the Sunday Morning Post, worshippers from four provinces have been refused permission to attend the biennial Asian Youth Day event, hosted by the southern Chinese city’s Catholic Dioscese.

Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen has been quoted in the newspaper as saying that it is very sad that officials have ruined the opportunity for exchange, although he doesn’t reveal which provinces have issued the bar.

China’s state-run patriotic Catholic church does not acknowledge the authority of the pope and appoints its own bishops to oversee its flock of four million.

Christians who do recognise the Vatican are forced to worship illegally in underground churches, which the Vatican estimates has around 10 million followers.

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