China Arrests 2 Priests of the Underground Church

STAMFORD, Connecticut, MAY 17, 2004 ( Chinese authorities arrested two priests of the underground Catholic Church just before the pair were to launch classes on natural family planning and on moral theology, a U.S.-based group reported.

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The Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation said that Chinese government security police arrested Father Lu Genjun, 42, and Father Cheng Xiaoli, 40, on Friday in An Guo, in the northern province of Hebei.

Father Lu belongs to the underground Catholic Diocese of Baoding. He was previously arrested on Palm Sunday in 1998 for a short period and was arrested again shortly before Easter in 2001 and detained for three years in the Gao Yang County labor camp in Hebei.

He was just recently released from the labor camp and arrested again. He is now detained in the police detention center of Dingzhou, Hebei.

Father Cheng belongs to the underground Diocese of An Guo, Hebei. This diocese has been without a bishop since the death of Bishop Liu Difeng, in the prison in Cheng De, in 1992. The whereabouts of the priest are unknown at present.

Joseph Kung, president of the watchdog Cardinal Kung Foundation, said the arrest of the two priests “is yet another in a litany of examples of the ongoing religious persecution in China,” and “proves that religious persecution is not something of the past.”

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