Monday, April 1, 2019

China: Clergy Continuously Persecuted for Refusing to Join State-Sanctioned Church

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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