Episcopal vicar of Baoding freed after 8 years in prison
Father Lu was arrested in February 2006 along with another priest and a friend whom he met at the train station in Baoding. The other priest was transferred to a Hebei prison and later released.
52-year-old Father Joseph Lu Genjun from the unofficial community of Baoding of Hebei province was released on August 9 after eight years of isolation and imprisonment.
At the time of his arrest, Father Lu had been carrying out the functions of the episcopal vicar of the diocese, after Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding and Auxiliary Bishop Francis An Shuxin of Baoding were seized by the police in 1996 and 1997 respectively.
Father Lu was arrested in February 2006 along with another priest and a friend whom he met at the train station in Baoding. The other priest was transferred to the Xushui prison in Hebei and later released. But Father Lu was brought to several secret places. Most recently he was being held in the Communist Party School in Baoding.
In December 2008, his parishioners asked the government for his release, even if only temporary, to be close to his dying parents and attend their funeral. But he was denied even this act of filial piety, which is of great importance in Chinese culture.
In 2009, Bishop An was persuaded to join the Patriotic Association. His choice created quite a stir and division in the Church of Baoding, considered a stronghold of the underground community and hence subjected to intense persecution.
Since his release, Father Lu is a guest at Bishop An's home, near the Cathedral of Baoding. It is highly likely that the release of Father Lu is merely a gesture of friendship by the local government towards the person of Bishop An Shuxin, who is much appreciated for his goodness.
Father Lu’s refusal to join the Patriotic Association had led to frequent arrests and detentions in the past. The first was on April 5, 1990, the same year of his ordination, on Palm Sunday, for a short period. He was arrested a second time, before Easter in 2001 and remained for three years in the Gao Yang Provincial labour camp in Hebei. Shortly after his release he was arrested again on May 14, 2004 and then in February 2006.
Many bishops and priests of the underground Church arrested by Chinese authorities are yet to be released.
Source: Vatican Radio