China Detains Bishop, Other Underground Catholics

Cosmas Shi Enxiang Reportedly Arrested on Good Friday

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BEIJING, APR. 23, 2001 ( Authorities have arrested a 79-year-old bishop, seven priests and 13 followers of China´s underground Catholic Church, the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation lobbying group reported today.

Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang was arrested while visiting Beijing on Good Friday, according to the Kung Foundation. The Stamford, Connecticut-based foundation supports China´s underground Church and monitors government efforts to suppress it. The bishop had been hiding from police since 1996.

China broke ties with the Vatican in 1951 and demands that Catholics worship only in churches approved by the state-controlled China Patriotic Catholic Association.

Police said they had no knowledge of the detentions, the Associated Press reported. The government´s Religious Affairs Bureau directed inquiries to its publicity department where phone calls rang unanswered, the AP said.

Bishop Shi has spent nearly 30 years in jail, most recently from 1990-93, the foundation said. It described him as the underground Church´s bishop of Yixian, a city in the central Hebei province where the unofficial Church is particularly active. He formerly served as auxiliary bishop of Yixian for the state-controlled church.

The foundation also said that on April 13, authorities detained priests Feng Yunxiang, in Fujian province, and Liao Haiqing, 70, along with 13 followers in southeastern Jiangxi province. On Easter Sunday, authorities arrested Lu Genjun, 39, and three other, unidentified priests in Baoding, Hebei. Four days later, authorities arrested Li Jianbo, 34, in Inner Mongolia.

Also this month, a priest identified only as Father Yin, who was arrested in January, was sentenced to three years in a labor camp, the foundation said.

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