Action Alert!

Open season on Chinese Catholics

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 19, 2005

Li Hua Zheng was frightened.

A Chinese Catholic, she was at Mass one day in 2000 when police burst through the door, seeking to arrest the priest. Zheng helped the priest to escape through a basement door, brought him to her grandmother's house, and then-- fearing official discovery and reprisals on her family-- to the home of a cousin in another province. From there, the priest went back to ministry in the underground Church.

Zheng still had a problem, however. The police, having torn down the church where Mass was being celebrated on that fateful day, were now searching for her. Afraid to return home, she made her way instead to the US, where she filed for asylum, saying that she was a victim of religious persecution.

Her case is pretty clear, right?

Wrong, according to Judge Sandra Lea Lynch of the federal First Circuit appeals court. Judge Lynch upheld the decision by immigration authorities to deny asylum, explaining that "there is no evidence that her flight was spurred by government action."

Huh? Did I miss something?

Judge Lynch explains that "the storming of the village church by unarmed officials was apparently targeted at the priest and seemed to have nothing to do with Zheng."

Except, maybe, that Zheng was an underground Catholic, now harboring an outlaw priest.

Judge Lynch (who, by the way, graduated from Wellesley one year before Hillary Clinton, and was appointed to the federal bench by Hillary's husband) goes on: "Given that Zheng was never detained or harmed, nor even ever threatened with detainment or harm, we are hardly compelled to find… that she was subject to past persecution."

It's not persecution, you see, unless they catch you. Of course if they do catch you, you probably won't have the chance to seek asylum in the US; Chinese authorities will have other plans for your future. So by the logic of the aptly named Judge Lynch, there's no such thing as persecution against Catholics in China.

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