12/06/2010, 00.00
CHINA - VATICAN
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The return of the Cultural Revolution: Chinese bishops imprisoned or hunted like criminals

by Bernardo Cervellera
The Patriotic Association and the government want to force Catholic clergymen to take part in the upcoming Assembly of Catholic representatives, an organization that is contrary to Catholic teachings. Wanted as a “dangerous criminal”, one bishop has disappeared. Another one was abducted from his official residence where the faithful had taken and defended him after days in isolation.

Rome (AsiaNews) - AsiaNews sources are reporting that the official bishop of Hengshui was forcibly removed from his residence by police and taken to an isolated location. The police had besieged the prelate’s house for hours, struggling against believers and priests who had formed a wall in an attempt to defend the freedom of their bishop.

Another bishop of Cangzhou, has disappeared and the police threatened the diocese: either he hands himself in to police custody or they will issue an arrest warrant throughout China identifying him as a "dangerous wanted criminal."

In a format reminiscent of the period of the Cultural Revolution, these events took place today.

Everything is due to the forthcoming meeting of the representatives of Chinese Catholics, which the Patriotic Association wants to force official Chinese bishops to attend to elect the presidents of the PA and the Council of Bishops, the Pope defines both bodies as against the Catholic faith, because they aim to create a Church independent of Rome.

To ensure even a meager participation, the PA has put under house arrest some of the bishops who participated in the illicit ordination of Chengde, on 20 November. On that occasion, eight bishops were kidnapped and forced to attend the ceremony, condemned by the Holy See as "a serious violation of religious freedom."

Since the illicit ordination, Mgr. Hengshui Feng Xinmao had been kept in isolation, banned from seeing any faithful, under constant police supervision. Days ago a very elderly priest of his diocese died, and the bishop asked to at least be allowed to celebrate the funeral. After much resistance from the police, and his threat to carry out a hunger strike, he was granted permission. At the end of the funeral the faithful and the priests surrounded him and brought him to the episcopate, from where he had been missing for nearly a month and set up a watch to make sure he would not be placed in isolation again. The police besieged the bishop'shouse, and after several hours managed to take the bishop back to prison.

The other episode involves Mgr. Li Lianggui, bishop of Cangzhou. After the illicit ordination, the bishop disappeared, perhaps because he didn’t want to be forced to take part in the meeting of representatives of Chinese Catholics. The police, after having searched throughout the diocese, threatened all the faithful either he hands himself into police custody or they will issue an arrest warrant throughout China identifying him as a "dangerous wanted criminal.

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