China detains underground Catholic priest
A priest in China's underground Catholic church was detained after saying a secret Christmas Mass, according to a statement from a US religious activist yesterday.
37 year old Fr Dong Yingmu was picked up in Baoding, a city in the central province of Hubei with a large underground church, said Joseph Kung, president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation.
Kung said Dong was detained in the week before Christmas, though he didn't know the date. Kung said the priest has been transferred to a prison in Hubei.
"He had finished one secret Mass and was on his way to conduct another when the police detained him," Kung said by telephone from Stamford, Connecticut.
An official of the Baoding Religious Affairs Bureau denied that Dong had been detained. Officials contacted by telephone at the prison cited by Kung's group and a nearby jail denied that anyone by Dong's name had been detained.
"We've never heard of this case. No such things happened," said the religious affairs official, who wouldn't give his name.
China allows only state-monitored worship, and underground Catholics are frequently arrested and harassed. Despite that, the unofficial Catholic church is believed to have as many as 12 million followers, compared with some four million for China's officially sanctioned church.
Catholic priest arrested for having secretly celebrated Christmas Holy Mass (MISNA)
Cardinal Kung Foundation
chinacatholic.org (Patriotic Church)
Chinese nuns first to take vows since 1949 (5/8/02)
China detains nun in raid (23/7/02)
China sentences three priests to labour camp (30/7/02)
13 Feb 2003