Hong Kong Bishops Concerned for Detainees

Urge China to Release Imprisoned Catholics

HONG KONG, OCT. 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- In the wake of the death of an imprisoned underground bishop in China, the Diocese of Hong Kong’s justice and peace commission urged authorities to release all Catholics who are detained without good cause.

In Sunday’s edition of Hong Kong’s diocesan weekly Kung Kao Po, the commission questioned the way the local government handled the death in September of Bishop John Han Dingxiang, of Yong Nian Diocese in Hebei Province.

Bishop Han was secretly moved to an unknown location for more than a year before his death; only close relatives were summoned to the prelate’s deathbed in his last moments. He was cremated within a few hours after his death. No priests or other faithful were present during his burial.

The commission criticized the treatment of the bishop, and expressed concern for other bishops currently imprisoned: “We are deeply concerned for the health and the safety of those aged Church people who are ‘missing,’ detained repeatedly and are under house arrest.”

It specifically named three aging underground Chinese bishops, Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, who had been detained repeatedly at a politically sensitive period; James Su Zhimin of Baoding, who had been arrested in 1997; and Cosmas Shi Enxiang of Yixian, who was taken into custody in 2001.

Citing religious freedom as a basic human right, the commission asked the Chinese authorities to release all Catholics who had been detained unreasonably, especially the aging bishops, so that they might receive proper care.

The justice and peace commission said that it plans to hold a requiem Mass for Bishop Han on Nov. 2 to pray for the late bishop, and for the Church in China.