The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC) on the ongoing persecution of Christianity by the communist regime in China. You can visit the ICC website at https://www.persecution.org for more on Christian persecution around the world.
Underground Church Leaders Repeatedly Detained in China
04/01/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian
Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on
March 28 and March 29, two underground church leaders in China’s Hebei
province were taken into custody by local authorities. On March 28,
vicar general Father Zhang Jianlin of Xuanhua diocese was taken into
custody by provincial religious bureau officials. Coadjutor Bishop
Augustine Cui Tai was seized the next day by officials from various
agencies after he received a text message informing him of his pending
arrest. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
This was not the first time that either of the Catholic clergymen
have been detained. Father Zhang was detained in 2009 and again last
January. Bishop Cui has been repeatedly kept in captivity since 2007,
and only released during the Chinese holidays so he could return home to
visit his elderly sister, before he was taken away again. His last
detention ended on January 24.
“The government’s aim is to paralyze the diocese. If the diocese
fails to manage the community, then the government will use this as an
opportunity to take it over,” a priest from the underground community told UCA News. He added that the government would give control of the diocese to the state-backed Patriotic Church.
Some believe that the latest detention is linked to a former underground priest from the same diocese, Francis Zhang Li. Asia News reported earlier this month that Cui suspended Zhang for switching to a Patriotic Church and for his “charismatic” activities.
Displeased that Bishop Cui still refused to join the Patriotic
Church, after the signing of a provisional deal between the Holy See and
Beijing last September, and Cui’s criticism of the government, Zhang
called for his arrest.
When inquired about this news, Father Francis Liu from Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness told ICC, “Actually,
this is the norm – during Lenten season, in order to prevent
underground bishops from performing the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday,
the government would take them away, forcing their parishioners to
attend the Mass at another diocese or an official church [that is
controlled by Beijing].”
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The undisclosed
Sino-Vatican deal has brought little positive development, if not more
suffering for the underground Catholic community in China. The Holy See
must have empathy for the underground Church and pressure China into
respecting their religious freedom. A rapprochement with China should
not be built at the expense of underground Chinese Catholics’ rights.”
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