07/13/2006, 00.00
EU – CHINA – VATICAN

EU foreign affairs committee calls for release of detained Chinese bishops

The illicit ordinations undermining confidence in dialogue between Beijing and the Holy See were also criticized.

Brussels (AsiaNews) – The European Union has called on China to immediately release bishops and Christians imprisoned "for their religious beliefs".

The call came in a report approved yesterday by a large majority in the EU Foreign Affairs Committee on ties between the EU and China. The report notes "the fate of many imprisoned bishops" and "calls on the authorities of the People's Republic of China to immediately release all members of Christian churches who are unjustly imprisoned or persecuted".

According to AsiaNews sources, dozens of bishops of the underground church are under house arrest or prevented from carrying out their ministry. Three of them went missing years ago when in police hands, and the government of Beijing has never given any reason why.

The report approved yesterday criticized China for the illicit bishops' ordinations that took place in recent months in Kunming and Anhui, holding them to be "a grave violation of religious freedom" that endangered trust in "honest and constructive dialogue" between Beijing and the Holy See and hindered the "development of freedoms" in China.

The report also highlighted the defence of religious freedom for Tibetans, Muslims in Xinjiang and groups of the Falun Gong.

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