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China: 1 underground priest released, 4 others jailed

Catholic World News - August 08, 2011

Chinese authorities have released a Catholic priest who had spent 4 months in prison in Hebei because of his refusal to join the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association. But in Shandong, 4 other priests have been arrested for the same reason.

Father Joseph Chen Hailong, a priest of the “underground” Catholic Church, was held in solitary confinement for 2 months, deprived of food and sleep, and harangued about his resistance to the Patriotic Association. The faithful of his Xuanhua diocese never knew where he was being held, and even after his release Father Chen did not know the location of the prison where he had been kept.

Even as Father Chen was freed, police in Shandong arrested 4 priests who were conducting a spiritual retreat for “underground” clergy of the Heze diocese. Taken into custody on August 3, these priests were denied food and water for two days, and subjected to pressure to enlist in the Patriotic Association. Local Catholics have appealed to the Vatican, and to faithful Catholics in other countries, to press Chinese authorities for their release.

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