>According to a news release, three Catholic priests are being held by Chinese authorities because of their refusal to join the officially-recognized Chinese religious organization.
The following report was released by Spero News:
The Cardinal Kung Foundation announced July 28th that three underground Roman Catholic priests were arrested at the home of a faithful Catholic on July 24th in the Ximeng region of Inner Mongolia. The three priests from the Hebei region of China were arrested by eight plain-clothes policemen because of the refusal to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is recognized by the Chinese communist government but which is not recognized by the Vatican.
Loyal to the pope and their church, the trio had fled to arid Inner Mongolia in order to avoid the arrest. They are: Father Liang Aijun, 35 years old, Father Wang Zhong, 41 years old, and Father Gao Jinbao, 34 years old; all of them hail from the Hebei region.
During the initial phase of their arrest, the priests were held in a lock-up and refused water and contact with outsiders. They were then removed to an undisclosed location.
In addition, a fourth priest, Father Cui Tai, 50 years old, has been held by authorities of the Chinese bureau for public security and religion since early July 2007. He has been held at the Zhuolu County detention cell ever since. Father Cui has also refused to register with the Patriotic Association. He belongs to the diocese of Xuanhua, Hebei province.
Joseph Kung, the President of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said: “In his China letter published about a month ago on June 30, Pope Benedict, apparently referring to the Patriotic Association, said: ‘the proposal for a Church that is ‘independent’ of the Holy See, in the religious sphere, is incompatible with Catholic doctrine.’ The Pope continued to say: ‘Many bishops have undergone persecution…..lay faithful….even paying a personal price for their faithfulness to Christ.’ The Pope also assured the Chinese government that Catholics can also be “good citizens” and respectfully asked the Chinese government to guarantee them ‘authentic religious freedom.'”
“Let us not forget that there are, as far as we know, still five bishops in jail; many other bishops are under house arrests and severe surveillance; and approximately 15 priests and some Catholic lay persons – an unknown number of them – are also in jail. While we need to ‘love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us,’ as Pope Benedict told us in his China letter, we also need to awaken the world to the ongoing persecution of the Roman Catholic Church in China. The freedom-loving and powerful countries of the world should take into greater consideration – consistently, and persistently, and not haphazardly – all human rights violations in China when forming and implementing their political and commercial decisions in relation to China.”
“In the meantime, we urge the Chinese government to take steps immediately to stop all persecution throughout China and release all Roman Catholic bishops and clergy together with those faithful of other faith from prisons as a goodwill gesture to Pope Benedict and to restore the world confidence in its leadership.”
Christians should pray for other persecuted Christians around the world.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary