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Report: Chinese bishop arrested: to silence Pope’s message?

August 24, 2007

From Catholic World News:

A prominent bishop of the underground Catholic Church in China was arrested on August 23, apparently to prevent him from distributing the Pope’s message to the Church in China.

Bishop Jia Zhiguo of the Zheng Ding diocese was taken into custody on Thursday morning, the US-based Cardinal Kung Foundation reports.

The bishop’s arrest came after several days of tight surveillance in his residence. The Cardinal Kung Foundation reports that visitors to the bishop’s home were held and interrogated by police before being released.

The AsiaNews service reports that Bishop Jia was preparing his own pastoral letter to accompany the release of the Pope’s message to the Chinese Church. The bishop had been repeatedly warned by Chinese officials that he should not distribute the Pope’s message. That papal message rejected the authority of the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association.

Bishop Jia is the most prominent leader of the underground Catholic Church in the Hebei province, where Catholics loyal to the Holy See have regularly experienced harassment by government officials and representatives of the Patriotic Association. After his arrest, a placard advertising the Patriotic Association was placed on the side of the bishop’s residence.

The 73-year-old Bishop Jia has spent more than 15 years in prison. In the past 3 years he has been arrested at least 11 times, usually to be interrogated, subjected to pressure to join the Patriotic Association, and eventually released. His last previous arrest was on June 5 of this year; he was released on June 22.

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