03/12/2010, 00.00
CHINA

Priest arrested in Fujian for organizing winter camp for 300 university students

Fr. John Baptist Luo was arrested on 3 March. Three other priests have been issued arrest warrants, but not yet detained. Another three have to pay a fine. Fr. Luo told AsiaNews: "I'm ready to go to jail. I would be happy to serve as a witness to Christ and follow the example of many holy martyrs. "

Fuan (AsiaNews/Ucan) - An underground priest from the Diocese of Mindong (Fujian) was arrested for organizing a camp with 300 students. Three other priests who work with him have received an arrest warrant, not yet  carried out, a further three were fined up to 500 Yuan (about 50 Euros). Weeks before his arrest, the priest had said: "I would be happy to serve as a witness to Christ and follow the example of many holy martyrs."    

Fr. John Baptist Luo, 39, and 6 other priests from the underground church had organized a winter camp for four days with 300 students, divided into two stages, in late January and early February. On 3 February, the public security came to the camp (in the church of Saiqi) and ordered the priests to cancel the event. The priests refused and explained the situation to the students present there, inviting those who were afraid to leave the area and reassuring those who remained that the priests would always be with them. Only 20 of the students left. The next day members of the public security subjected the priests to a long interrogation but did not make any arrests.  

In those days, Fr. Luo told AsiaNews that he was "ready to go to jail," that he had "nothing to fear" and that he was "proud to be a Catholic priest, eager to profess his faith with actions." He added: "I would be happy to serve as a witness to Christ and follow the example of many holy martyrs."    

Fr. Luo is very active a evangelist, even on the internet, where he has a very popular blog: http://blog.sina.com.cn/frluo.  

 Since March 3 he is in "administrative detention" in a guest-house (prison) of the Fuan government. Three other priests, Fathers Guo Xijin, Miu Yong and Liu Maochun received arrest warrants but so far the police have not carried out the arrests. Three others were penalized to pay 500 yuan, but the faithful say that they prefer to go to jail rather than pay the fine.  

The Diocese of Mindong is almost entirely made up of believers of the underground Church: out of 80 thousand Catholics, more than 70 thousand are unofficial, very organized and vibrant, with over 50 priests, 96 nuns and 400 lay catechists. Their bishop is Mgr. Vincent Huang Shoucheng, 86. Mindong also has a patriotic bishop, Mgr. Zhan Silu, who is followed by a few faithful.  

 

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