By a Diplomatic Correspondent REPORTS that all Christian churches in Peking have been closed are confirmed by people arriving in Hong Kong from the Chinese mainland. They were closed in August by the Red Guard— followers of Mao Tse Tung, the Communist Party Chairman—at the start of the current Cultural Revolution.
Churches in the city are now covered with redpainted extracts of Mao's writings and a banner proclaiming "Long Live Mao" is flying from the spire of a former Catholic cathedral.
Apparently the decree closing the churches in the name of the Cultural Revolution is not limited to churches in Peking. Red Guards are using former Christian churches in Shanghai as assembly halls.
Peking Catholics received no reply to their request for permission to say Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, In Shanghai, 20 westerners, virtually the entire Western colony there, met in the British compound to celebrate the event. The service, the only one in Shanghai, was inter-denominational.
Observers say that never before in this century have Christians in a Chinese city been barred from public worship on Christmas Day. They note that, although the Communist regime's Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, practising Chinese Christians still living in Peking have been forced to go underground to worship.
Abortion protest next week
HE newly-formed Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, headed by Lord Barrington, which is putting pressure on M.P.s to amend certain clauses of Mr. David Steel's private member's Bill on abortion, now before the House of Commons, is to hold a protest meeting at Caxton Hall on Tuesday.
Leading gynecologists who are members of the committee last week expressed strong opposition to much of the Bill. Prof. Ian Donald, Regius Professor of Midwifery at Glasgow University, described —in terms which he admitted were deliberately shocking— au abortion operation even under ideal conditions.
Prof. James Scott, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Leeds University, said abortion, so far as a baby was concerned, was an operation of full mortality and was acceptable only if regarded as euthanasia. If this was to be done is should be admitted openly, and the logical level at which to start it was with elderly people who wanted to be put away.
Jesuit becomes Anglican priest
FR. ANTHONY STEPHENSON, S.J., 59, a theologian, was recently received into the Anglican Church as a priest in a ceremony at St. Thomas's Anglican Church, Toronto. The Irish-born priest, who has been a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, since 1963. said his "theological studies" and his "conscience" prompted the move.
"My motives have been strictly theological and ecclesiastical. I retain, and always shall, the deepest respect and affection for the Roman Catholic Church, which gave me Baptism and ordination."