|China||GOVT. ARRESTS ARCHBISHOP|
Authorities have arrested an 80-year-old archbishop of China's underground Roman Catholic Church who had previously spent nearly three decades in prison, a monitoring group said yesterday.
About 150 police took Archbishop John Yang Shudao into custody around midnight on Thursday in Fuzhou, the capital of southeastern Fujian Province, the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation said in a statement.
Officials of China's Religious Affairs Bureau said they were not aware Yang had been detained.
In 1955, Yang was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for defying an order to denounce the pope as the supreme authority of the Roman Catholic Church and for refusing to cooperate with the establishment of a government-controlled church, the group said.
He was released in 1981, arrested again in 1988 and sentenced to three years in jail. He has also been detained many other times, the foundation said. China's officially atheist communist government insists that Chinese citizens have full freedom of religion, but it requires Christians of all denominations to worship in state-registered churches.
Millions of Chinese Roman Catholics worship secretly, recognizing the Vatican as their religious authority rather than the government.
Catholics in China have reported an intensified campaign since last summer against worship outside the state-sanctioned church, the China Patriotic Catholic Association. They report that authorities have burned and blown up churches and taken dozens of clerics into custody.