Another underground Catholic priest arrested in Hebei

The U.S. based Cardinal Kung Foundation confirmed the arrest. Father Wanjun, 39, was ordained 11 years ago. He was taken to an unknown location.

China
August 13 2013, 11:00 AM
Another underground Catholic priest arrested in Hebei

Police in Qiaodong District of Hebei province arrested Father Song Wanjun, an underground priest of the diocese of Xiwanzi, last Wednesday, while he was driving his car. He was taken to an unknown location.  

The U.S. based Cardinal Kung Foundation confirmed the arrest. Father Wanjun, 39, was ordained 11 years ago. He worked in Zhangbei County for years before being assigned to Chongli County and risked arrest for some time now.

Many priests and bishops are imprisoned, placed under house arrest or forced to undergo ‘study sessions’ to join the Patriotic Association controlled by the Communist Party of China. Pope Benedict XVI in his letter to the Chinese Church had described it as “incompatible with Catholic doctrine”.   

Over the past 20 years, at least 20 Catholic underground priests of the dioceses of Xuanhua and Xiwanzi in the Zhangjiakou area of Hebei province have been tortured and pressured to join the Patriotic Association. Those arrested and released after months of torture are put under surveillance. Fathers Li Huisheng and Wang Zhong were sentenced to 7 years and 3 years, respectively. 

Bishop Leon Yao Ling of Xiwanzi was arrested in 2006 and subjected to isolation and studying of Chinese religious laws for two-and-a-half years. He died in 2009, a few months after his release. He was earlier imprisoned for 28 years during Mao’s rule and was released only in 1984.

The fate of two underground bishops arrested several years ago from Heibei province remains a mystery.  

82-year-old Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding was arrested in October 1997. He was spotted by chance in November 2003, while receiving treatment at a hospital in Baoding surrounded by police. After a brief visit from relatives, he was taken away by the police. His whereabouts are unknown since. Whereabouts of 92-year-old Bishop Cosma Shi Enxiang of Yixian, arrested in April 2001, too is not known.

The northern Hebei province is one of the strongholds of the Catholic China. The diocese of Baoding alone, one of the largest and with a strong presence of underground Catholics, has at least 50,000 Catholics. There are 120 priests, official and underground.

Source: AsiaNews