"Underground" Bishop Arrested in China

Wei Jingyi Is Known for Fidelity to Pope

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ROME, MARCH 9, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Bishop Wei Jingyi of the Diocese of Qiqihar, of the underground Church loyal to Rome, was arrested last Friday in Heilogjiang, in northeastern China.

The bishop had gone to the Harbin airport to meet some foreign friends. He was arrested while paying at the toll booth on his way back from the airport. Further details were unavailable.

The U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation published the news Monday. It was confirmed today by the Fides agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Bishop Wei, 45, has been a priest since 1985, and prelate of Qiqihar since 1995. He has been arrested twice in the past and sentenced to labor camps from 1987-1989 and from 1990-1992.

From 1993-1995 he was secretary of the underground Catholic bishops’ conference. The Cardinal Kung Foundation reported that Bishop Wei was last arrested on Sept. 9, 2002.

Fides called for prayers for the arrested bishop and for an end to «this obstinate persecution of bishops, priests and laity, the faithful of the universal Church.»

Bishop Wei is known for his fidelity to the Pope and his involvement in evangelization, AsiaNews reported. The Diocese of Qiqihar numbers 50,000 Catholic faithful and dozens of priests and nuns.

At least six Catholic bishops of the «underground» Church and some 20 priests are still in prison in China, according to Joseph Kung, president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation.

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