Chinese priest's three years jail for consecrating church

A Chinese priest has been sentenced for three years for organising the celebrations of the consecration of a church.

Fr Wang Zhong, who has been in isolation since July, was arrested because of his membership of the illegal underground church, in opposition to the state-sanctioned China Catholic Patriotic Association (CCAP).

Pope Benedict has previously stipulated that the CCAP's principles are incompatible with Catholic doctrine.

However, AsiaNews reports a valid building permit for construction of the church was indeed issued by the Religious Affairs Bureau.

The church was built with the right permit and paid for by parishioners who raised the money over a two-year period.

Fr Wang's diocese of Xiwanzi (Hebei), is part of the underground Church and has 15,000 members.

For several months the police have waged a campaign against priests and bishops, which has seen the diocese;s auxiliary bishop, Mgr Yao Liang, disappear into police custody.

Another 20 faithful and two priests are also in prison.

At his trial, Fr Wang was accused of organising an unlawful meeting and using the official seal of the parish.

The prosecution called a policeman to the stand to say that consecration celebrations had caused local traffic problems.

In his final plea, Father Wang's defence attorney said that the charges were unfair and baseless, founded on false testimonies.

Chinese priest sentenced to three years for inaugurating a state-sanctioned church, (Asia News 22/11/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (Wikipedia)

China hardens position against underground church (CathNews, 03/08/07)
Cardinal declares China has "one Church with two faces" (CathNews, 30/10/03)
BChinese Bishop abducted, escapes over illicit ordination (CathNews, 01/12/06)
Chinese bishop released after 10 years in prison (CathNews, 28/08/06)

23 Nov 2007