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Chinese Bishop Jia, 69, Arrested

Bishop Jia Zhi Guo, who heads the underground Catholic Church for the Diocese of Zheng Ding, was arrested on 5 January. Bishop Jia has been five times in the past year, in a clear pattern of harassment by Chinese government authorities.

Bishop Jia was taken into custody by officials of the government's religious bureau, and is being held at an unknown location, according to Catholic World News. Just a few weeks earlier, on 14 December, the bishop had been arrested along with 11 priests in the Hebei province; they were all released after a few hours of detention.

The Chinese government, which insists that all religious groups must accept direction from the Communist Party, has a pattern of cracking down on the underground Catholic Church around the times of major Christian holy days and Chinese national holidays.

China only offers official recognition to the Catholic bishops approved by the Catholic Patriotic Association, which in turn is directed by the Communist Party. The "underground" Church, which remains steadfastly loyal to the Holy See, has been subject to steady pressure, with authorities frequently jailing clerics and laymen. At the same time, a large number of bishops of the "official" Church have reportedly frustrated the government's plans by quietly establishing ties with the Vatican.

Bishop Jia has spent nearly 20 years of his life in jail (he is now 69). Last year he was arrested in April and twice in September before his December 14 arrest. The bishop has opened his home as a residence for 100 handicapped orphans. In 1999 the government shut down that orphanage, but finally bowed to international diplomatic pressure and allowed it to re-open.

Joseph Kung, the president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, charged that the Beijing government's persecution of religious believers should be recognized as clear evidence that China is unfit to host the Olympic Games in 2008. He argued that the International Olympic Committee "must not tolerate these atrocious persecutions."

Chinese Bishop Jia, 69, Arrested (Catholic World News 7/1/05)

Cardinal Kung Foundation

China denies detention of Bishops (CathNews 25/6/04)
China arrests another Catholic bishop (CathNews 8/4/04)
Cardinal declares China has "one Church with two faces" (CathNews 30/10/03)
Released underground Bishop warned not to say mass (3/4/02 CathNews )

10 Jan 2005