Vatican Denounces Arrests in China

2 Bishops, Priest, Layman Detained

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2005 ( The Holy See denounced the arrest of two bishops, a priest and a layman in China.

The Vatican received «the news that on Wednesday, March 30, Reverend Thomas Zhao Kexium of the diocese of Xuanhua, in the province of Hebei, was arrested by the police as he was returning from a funeral,» said spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls today in a statement to the press.

«His whereabouts and the reason for his arrest are unknown,» stated the Vatican press office.

«Also the bishop of the same diocese, Bishop Philip Peter Zhao Zhendong, 85 years old, was arrested Jan. 3, and is detained in the city of Jiangjiakow,» added the text.

«On Palm Sunday, March 20, the national security forces seized Bishop James Lin Xili, 86 years old, Bishop of Wenzhou, in the province of Zhejiang. The reasons for his arrest are unknown,» said Navarro Valls.

Lastly, the statement reported that «in the diocese of Wenzhou, two days later, Gao Xinyou, collaborator in the pastoral care of the laity in the Longgang area, was arrested in the same way.»

Bishop Lin Xili is on the list of 18 bishops and 19 priests arrested or subjected to isolation, which was published recently by the AsiaNews agency, and which was handed to the Chinese Embassy in the United States by a representative of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference.

He is «one of the bishops of the underground Church who have been abducted and brain-washed in alternating phases to force them to register in the Patriotic Association, the organization controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, among whose objectives is the creation of a Church independent of the Pope,» explained Father Bernardo Cervellera, director of AsiaNews.

In a press conference on Friday, Liu Jianchao, spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, wished the Pope a «speedy recovery.»

On Friday, Xinhua agency and the People’s Newspaper, reported extensively on the Pope’s health, according to sources of AsiaNews. On Saturday, however, the news disappeared from all Internet sites, television channels and newspapers.

Beijing severed its relations with the Holy See in 1951, expelling the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Riberi.

To resume relations, China requests two conditions: That the Pope not interfere in the country’s religious situation (among other things, that he not appoint bishops), and that he sever relations with Taiwan.

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