China Is Pressed for Response on Clergy

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops’ conference has requested information from China about the 37 prelates and priests “either imprisoned, under house arrest, under surveillance or otherwise prevented from exercising their ministry” there.

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In a letter to Ambassador Yang Yiechi, the chairman of the episcopate’s International Policy Committee, Bishop John Ricard, said: “These are serious, responsible and indeed patriotic Chinese citizens who deserve better than to be treated as criminals.”

Bishop Ricard reminded the ambassador of three letters, sent in 2004, requesting similar information regarding specific bishops and priests, reportedly imprisoned, noting that he had “yet to receive any response or acknowledgement of my letters.”

“Today, Mr. Ambassador, I expand those earlier requests for information about arrested clergy and send you an expanded list of bishops and priests either imprisoned, under house arrest, under surveillance or otherwise prevented from exercising their ministry.”

The AsiaNews agency has launched a campaign to liberate 19 bishops and 18 priests arrested or otherwise prevented from carrying out their ministry in China.

The news service of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions initiated the campaign together with the Holy Spirit Study Center of Hong Kong, and various Christian communities and Web sites in Europe.

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