Vatican Official Speaks Out on Imprisoned Chinese Clergy

Rome-based News Agency Launches Freedom Campaign

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ROME, JAN. 18, 2012 ( The Rome-based AsiaNews agency has launched a campaign to appeal for the release of three bishops and six priests who are detained by the Chinese government.

The agency has written a letter to President Hu Jintao and the Chinese ambassador in Italy, Ding Wei. 

«Their release could be a gesture of friendship and hope for Catholics and human rights activists, as well as a sign of true hope for the upcoming Chinese New Year,» said the AsiaNews appeal, published Monday.

According to the agency, the bishops and priests have not been charged with any crime. Moreover, they have never been given a trial or been convicted by a court. In spite of this, they have been placed in forced labor camps, or have simply disappeared after being seized by the police

A day after the announcement of the campaign AsiaNews published an interview with the highest-ranking Chinese prelate, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The Hong Kong native explained that requests by the Vatican for information on the whereabouts of the missing bishops and priests have been unsuccessful. The reply by Chinese authorities has simply been: «We do not know.»

Clearly, he said, this indicates that the motive behind the disappearances is religious.


In terms of what can be done to resolve this situation, Archbishop Hon Tai-Fai said that first of all we should pray for them. Then what is needed is to appeal to the Chinese government for their release, or at least the chance for a trial if they have done something wrong.

The witness of these bishops and priests makes me proud, the Vatican official declared. Their sufferings «have a great mystical value of salvation,» he reflected, adding that not only are they models of heroism, but they will also make the work of evangelization fruitful.

The Vatican will continue to do all it can to help these prisoners, Archbishop Hon affirmed, saying that it is important to keep up the pressure on the Chinese government. He also called upon the underground Catholic community to forgive their persecutors, following the example of the martyr, St. Stephen.

Study sessions

The AsiaNews appeal comes amid continuing evidence that clergy in China face the constant threat of persecution. It was reported on Jan. 11 by the UCANews agency that Bishop John Wang Ruowang of Tianshui and some of his priests have been forced to attend «study sessions.»

The bishop, who belongs to the underground Catholic Church, was secretly ordained with the Pope’s approval last year. He was taken Dec. 30 from Taijing church by officials to a guesthouse in Tianshui city in northern Gansu province.

According to the report, people have been in contact with Bishop Wang and he has reported that he is undergoing «education and conversion classes.» Since Jan. 4, seven diocesan priests have been taken away for this type of «study.»

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On the Net:

Details of the bishops and priests detained:,-home-for-the-Chinese-New-Year-23704.html

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