Special to the Fatima Network

Blessed Be God in the Highest

Persecution of Catholics in China Increases

"The Good Will Be Martyred"

Vatican agency 'Fides' reported on January 31 on the alarming situation of the Catholic Church in Communist China, whose members remain faithful to the Pope's authority. In China, communist authorities have constantly persecuted the Church, opposing the practice of the Catholic cult, with exception of the official church sanctioned by the state -- the so-called "Patriotic Church". However, the so-called "underground Church" which is faithful to the authority of the Supreme Pontiff survives in spite of the persecutions, attracting a great number of faithful.

As the agency informed, the persecution against the "underground Church" has reached really alarming dimensions. In the last three years, six bishops have disappeared, while dozens of priests have also been kidnaped by the police, without counting diverse actions against Catholics in general and the destruction of churches.

Among other things, the agency points out that the repression is part of a campaign that seeks to force the Catholic faithful to the authority of the Pope to be part of the "patriotic" church sanctioned by the state. Among the bishops "missing," is the case of Bishop James David Lin Xili, 80 years old, disappeared since September 8.

In a similar press-release that confirms this persecution in more detail, The Cardinal Kung Foundation, an advocate of the underground Roman Catholic Church in China, reported on January 23 that one underground Roman Catholic bishop, three priests and one layperson were recently arrested.

Underground Roman Catholic Bishop Han Dingxiang, Bishop of the Diocese of Yong Nian in Hebei Province, was arrested on or about December 1, 1999 when he was leading a religious retreat in Shijiazhuang. Bishop Han was detained and released many times in the past, each for a short period of time. He has now been taken away for almost 2 months. "We do not know where he is. He is 63 years of age and was in jail in the past for about 20 years" said the press-release.

Mr. Wang Chengqun, an underground Roman Catholic lay leader in Baoding, Hebei was arrested shortly before Christmas, 1999. He is now held in the "Re-education through Labor" center in Gaoyangxian County in Hebei Province. This is his seventh arrest in the last 20 years, having been imprisoned for a total of approximately 10 years. When he was in the labor camp last time in 1997, he suffered a stroke, partially paralyzing him without any medical care from the prison authority. They kicked him out of the labor camp instead. His paralysis was not cured when he was arrested last Christmas. He is 65 years of age.

Underground Roman Catholic priests Father Guo Yibao and Father Wang Zhenhe, both of Anjiazhuang, Xushui, Hebei were arrested when they were on their way to offer a Mass in Easter, 1999. Both of them are now in Xushui Detention Center. No one is allowed to visit them. In addition, Father Xie Guolin of Xuguozhuang, Gaoyangxian, Hebei was also arrested in 1999. Details of Father Xie's arrest are not known.

Joseph Kung, President of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said: "We do not know the official reasons for the arrests of these persons. However, we believe their arrests are the result of their religious activities in accordance with their conscience. Sadly, in China, the practice of religious activities is only allowed in accordance with the choice of the government. This choice of the government for all religious believers is to join the Patriotic Association. Practicing religion according to one's conscience and thereby refusing to join the Patriotic Association is illegal in China and is subject to arrest and to other form of punishments."

At the Fatima: World Peace 2000 conference held in Hamilton in October of 1999, Joseph Kung from the Cardinal Kung Foundation delivered a dramatic speech which documented the ongoing persecution of the Catholic Church in China. He exposed the official "Patriotic Catholic Church" whose bishops are not appointed by the Holy See, but by the Chinese government. In order to receive moneys from the West, members of the Patriotic Church often pose as true Catholics "loyal to the papacy." At the Fatima World Peace conference, one African bishop mentioned that he found Joseph Kung's speech startling and revealing. "According to the information I receive in my diocese," the bishop said, "I was under the impression that the Catholic Church was flourishing in China. I did not know the persecutions were still going on."

In his speech, Joseph Kung also spoke of the life of his uncle, the heroic Cardinal Ignatius Kung who spent 35 years in Communist China and who now lives in Connecticut. You can listen to Joseph Kung's speech on the web.

Mr. Kung's speech is available from The Fatima Crusader on both audio and video cassette. Call 1-800-263-8160.

Please remember the persecuted underground Church in China in your prayers.

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