Holy See Asks China to Explain Bishop's Arrest

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 10, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See expressed its «concern and sadness» over the news of the arrest of a Catholic bishop in China and requested explanations from the authorities.

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Bishop Wei Jingyi, of the Diocese of Qiqihar, was arrested March 5 in the Harbin airport, in northeastern China, the Cardinal Kung Foundation revealed.

«The Holy See has learned with concern and sadness the news, transmitted by international wire services, of the arrest in China of a Catholic bishop in the region of Heilongjiang,» the Vatican press office said in a note Tuesday.

«Whatever accusations there might be against the arrested bishop, they should be made public, as happens in every State of law,» the note said. «The Holy See, for its part, has no motive for doubting the prelate’s innocence.»

Bishop Wei, 46, is one of the youngest prelates of the «underground» Church, which recognizes the authority of the Pope but lacks government approval.

The arrested bishop is «known for his fidelity to the Pope and his commitment to evangelization,» said Father Bernardo Cervellera, director of AsiaNews agency. «For this reason, he has suffered four years of forced labor in two different periods.»

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