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» 03/31/2009
CHINA - VATICAN
Police arrest underground Zhengding bishop Jia Zhiguo
by Bernardo Cervellera
He was taken from his home by 5 police officers. For weeks, he had been under surveillance 24 hours a day, to prevent him from meeting with the official bishop, with whom he had reconciled on instructions from the Vatican. A blow to the Holy See's strategy of unifying the Chinese Church, while the meeting of the Plenary Commission on the Church in China continues at the Vatican. Bishop Jia Zhiguo was also taunted by the police.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, the underground bishop of Zhengding (Hebei), was arrested yesterday by police and taken away to an undisclosed location. The arrest took place in conjunction with the meeting at the Vatican of the Plenary Commission on the Church in China.

Yesterday afternoon at four o'clock (local time), 5 police officers and two vehicles appeared outside the bishop's home and took him to an undisclosed location. Bishop Jia, 74, suffers from various disturbances because of past imprisonments and his age, and the faithful of the diocese are concerned that this new arrest could endanger his life.

For years, Jia has endured arrest and isolation by the police, who have kept him away from his community for months. During these periods, the police have tried to indoctrinate him on the religious policies of the Party, and to force him to join the Patriotic Association (PA).

This time, the motives are even more serious, and strike at the heart of the Vatican's attempts to reconcile the official and underground Church in Hebei, the region with the highest concentration of Catholics.

Months ago, Jang Taoran, the bishop of Shijiazhuang (Hebei), the diocese of the official Church in the area, reconciled with the Holy See, and agreed - at instructions from the Vatican - to work with Bishop Jia Zhiguo, becoming his auxiliary bishop. Bishop Jia would become, instead, the ordinary bishop of the diocese, while remaining in the underground Church and without the recognition of the government.

The two bishops have met frequently, and have begun to construct a common pastoral plan. But as soon as the Patriotic Association became aware of these signs of reconciliation, it required the bishops to stop meeting together, and put them under police surveillance 24 hours a day. According to some local sources, the police told Bishop Jia Zhiguo that "this unity [editor's note: between the two bishops] is bad because it is desired by a foreign power like the Vatican. If there must be unity, it must come through the government and the PA." When Bishop Jia resisted joining the PA, the police began to laugh at the bishop, saying that the government will put another bishop in his place, and that for him "it is time to retire, since he is sick."

The meeting of the Vatican Commission on the Church in China, which will continue until tomorrow, was intended to address the issues involved in the implementation of the pope's letter to Chinese Catholics, which was published in June of 2007. In it, Benedict XVI had urged the official Church and the underground Church to foster reconciliation, and had called the ideals and the structure of the Patriotic Association "incompatible" with the Catholic faith, because it intends to create a national Church independent from the Holy See.

On the current situation of persecution of the Church in China, cf. also: AsiaNews.it, 30/03/2009 Persecution in China as Vatican meeting on China opens.


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See also
09/30/2005 China - Vatican
China's 4 bishops will not attend Synod
02/12/2009 CHINA
Underground bishop of Xiwanzi released after two and a half years in prison
04/02/2009 VATICAN - CHINA
Vatican's "sadness" over arrest of Bishop Jia Zhiguo. The Church and formation
by Bernardo Cervellera
09/14/2006 CHINA - VATICAN
Zhouzhi bishop arrested; he defied government for love of the Pope
04/02/2005 vatican - china
China: the Vatican denounces the arrest of bishop, priest and layperson

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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