China hardens position against underground church

A new series of arrests of underground Catholic priests and blocking of activities by Chinese authorities appear to indicate a hardening of the government's position following Pope Benedict's letter to Catholics in China, a local source says.

AsiaNews reports that arrests and controls have halted all of the underground community's summer activities in what appears to be an attempt to force the "obedience" of all non official communities to the Patriotic Association.

Sources confirm that since last May their conditions have worsened due to the pope's letter to China's faithful, AsiaNews says.

The sources note in fact a hardening of both the police and Patriotic Association which corresponds to the publishing of the letter distributed in late June.

In Hebei, Zhejiang and central Mongolia all of the activities of the underground church, not recognised by the government have been blocked.

During the summer the priests dedicate their time to youth meetings and catechesis, but police controls and the arrest of several priests have rendered their work impossible.

Last month in the Ximeng region of Inner Mongolia, police arrested three underground priests. According to AsiaNews sources the three were in Mongolia on mission.

In Hebei, Fr Liu Tai, 50 years, was arrested in Zhoulu county.

A clamp down has also been registered in Zhejiang. Fr Jiang Sunian, Wenzhou diocese chancellor, who had been promised early release due to ill health, will have to remain in prison until the end of his sentence that is until the end of August.

Fr Jiang was arrested last August for having falsified his passport to allow him travel on pilgrimage to Rome.

Priests arrested and put into solitary confinement: the governments answer to the Pope's Letter

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Beijing diocese (Catholic Hierarchy)
Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (Wikipedia)
Roman Catholicism in China (Wikipedia)

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3 Aug 2007