China Frees 2 Priests, but Not Their Bishop

BEIJING, NOV. 24, 2005 ( Two Catholic priests were released this week by the public security forces of Hebei province, the day after U.S. President George Bush ended his visit to China.

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Father Li Suchuan, 40, and Father Yang Ermeng, 35, were arrested Nov. 7, the eve of the arrest of their bishop, Jia Zhi Guo of Zhengding, sources in Hebei told AsiaNews.

Bishop Jia, 71, is being detained in a hotel where he is being subjected to a «study session,» sources told AsiaNews.

«This is the term used to describe repeated attempts by the authorities to induce the Bishop to join the Patriotic Association. No one knows how long the ‘session’ will take,» explained the agency.

The bishop and two priests belong to the «non-official» Catholic Church. The Chinese government allows religious practice only with recognized personnel and in places registered with the Office of Religious Affairs and under the control of the Patriotic Association.

The two priests have returned to their parishes in the villages of Zhoujiazhuang and Zhoutou.

The Zhengding Diocese is one of the most active in Hebei, with almost 1.5 million faithful.

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