Action Alert!

Catholic World News News Feature

China arrests 10 clerics of underground Church August 17, 2004

The Chinese government has arrested 8 Catholic priests and 2 seminarians, in the latest strike against the underground Church.

The priests were taken into custody after they had gathered in a small village in the Hebei province for a spiritual retreat, the US-based Cardinal Kung Foundation reports. The arrests came in a lightning police raid on August 6, involving 20 police vehicles, according to witnesses.

All but one of the priests arrested were from the Baoding diocese, including the diocesan administrator, Father Huo Junlong. Bishop Su Zhi-Ming of Baoding has been imprisoned since 1997, and his current whereabouts are unknown. His auxiliary, Bishop An Shuxin, has been imprisoned since 1996. The faithful of the underground Church in Baoding do not know whether these bishops remain alive. The previous head of the diocese, Bishop Joseph Fan Xueyan, died in prison under torture. Eight other priests of the diocese are currently in prison, in addition to the 9 arrested on August 6.

The Hebei province, southwest of Beijing, has the largest concentration of Catholics in mainland China, according to the AsiaNews service. The Baoding diocese has long been a stronghold of the underground Church loyal to Rome.