Bishop Jia Zhiguo released, seminarians avoid arrest
Rome (AsiaNews) Chinese authorities released Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo. However, the police tried to raid an underground seminary in Baoding but seminarians were warned in time and able to get away scot-free, sources told AsiaNews.
According to the Kung Foundation, the police had arrested the 69-year-old clandestine prelate on January 5 in a church in Wu Qiu (Hebei) only to release him on the 8..
Local Catholics told AsiaNews that he was arrested to prevent him from celebrating Epiphany with his faithful.
"It's always the same story," they said. "We are used to it by now. Just before an important feastChristmas, Easter, Pentecost, the Assumptionthe Bishop is taken into custody and disappears for a few days. This is religious freedom Chinese-style for you."
The Chinese government guarantees freedom of worship but only for some religions in places and by clergy registered with Religious Affairs Office. For Catholics, this means being subject to the Patriotic Association whose goal is to set up a Catholic Church separate from Rome.
In Hebei, the province with the largest concentration of Catholics, many refuse to submit to government's control and prefer to meet in private homes.
Before Christmas, the police threatened to detain anyone who celebrated the holiday outside established structures.
The underground seminary in Baoding, with its dozens of theology students, was shut down in 1996 after a police raid led to the arrest of its rector and the detention of Bishop Francis An Shuxin. At that time, students were sent home.
Since then the seminary has been moving from place to place to avoid further arrests. However, Bishop An Shuxin is still detained but no one knows where.