08/05/2011, 00.00
CHINA - VATICAN

Fr. Chen Hailong, sequestered for four months to deny the pope, is freed

He suffered isolation and hunger. To overcome loneliness and isolation, he drew a picture of the Blessed Sacrament on the wall of his cell, praying for a long time. The government wants to force him and other priests to register and subscribe to the PA, which wants to build a Church independent of the pope.
Beijing (AsiaNews / UCAN) - An underground priest from the diocese of Xuanhua (Hebei) has been released after about four months. Local sources said that during this time he was abused and brainwashed to force him to join the Patriotic Association and reject his bond with the pope.

Fr. Joseph Chen Hailong (pictured), a priest for nearly two years, was seized by plainclothes police officers on 9 April and has never known the place where he was detained (see: Two underground priests arrested and beaten in Hebei).

According to local sources, Fr. Chen was held in solitary confinement for at least two months in a "hotel", suffering starvation, to the point of fainting. The authorities seized him to question him on personalities of the underground Church and constantly tried to convince him to join the Patriotic Association, which aims to build a Church independent of the pope.

To overcome loneliness and isolation, Fr. Chen drew a picture of the Eucharist on the wall of his cell, spending lengthy periods in prayer before his symbol of the Blessed Sacrament.

For the past several years the government has launched a campaign to force Hebei priests and bishops of the underground community to become official and register with the Patriotic Association.

According to AsiaNews sources in the last 20 years at least 20 Catholic priests of the underground area of Zhangjiakou (Hebei), the diocese of Xuanhua and Xiwanzi, have been tortured and have suffered tremendous pressure to convince them to join the Patriotic Association (PA) , controlled by the Communist Party of China.

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