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Chinese bishop released and seminarians avoid arrest

Chinese authorities have released Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo (pictured). However, the police tried to raid an underground seminary in Baoding but seminarians were warned in time and able to get away.

According to the Kung Foundation, the police had arrested the 69-year-old clandestine prelate on 5 January in a church in Wu Qiu (Hebei). Local Catholics told AsiaNews that he was arrested to prevent him from celebrating Epiphany with his faithful.

"It's always the same story," they said. "We are used to it by now. Just before an important feast—Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, the Assumption — the Bishop is taken into custody and disappears for a few days. This is religious freedom Chinese-style for you."

The Chinese government guarantees freedom of worship but only for some religions in places and by clergy registered with Religious Affairs Office. For Catholics, this means being subject to the Patriotic Association whose goal is to set up a Catholic Church separate from Rome.

In Hebei, the province with the largest concentration of Catholics, many refuse to submit to government's control and prefer to meet in private homes.

Before Christmas, the police threatened to detain anyone who celebrated the holiday outside established structures.

The underground seminary in Baoding, with its dozens of theology students, was shut down in 1996 after a police raid led to the arrest of its rector and the detention of Bishop Francis An Shuxin. At that time, students were sent home.

Since then the seminary has been moving from place to place to avoid further arrests. However, Bishop An Shuxin is still detained but no one knows where.

Bishop Jia Zhiguo released, seminarians avoid arrest (AsiaNews 10/1/05)

Cardinal Kung Foundation

Chinese Bishop Jia, 69, Arrested (CathNews 10/1/05)
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 )

11 Jan 2005