Justice and Peace calls for the release of Mgr Augustine Cui Tai, bishop of Xuanhua
Card Joseph Zen backs the appeal. The bishop, who is recognised by the Holy See but not by the government, has spent many years doing forced labour and under house arrest.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The Hong Kong Justice and Peace Commission has launched a campaign to get Chinese authorities to free Mgr Augustine Cui Tai, coadjutor bishop of Xuanhua (Hebei). The prelate disappeared in the hands of the police in mid-April 2018 and, since then, his whereabouts remain unknown.
Mgr Cui Tai, who is recognised by the Holy See, belongs to the underground Church. Previously he spent years in re-education camps and under house arrest for refusing to submit to the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which seeks to build a Church independent of the Holy See.
Card Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, supports the appeal, as he did last year (pictured). Here is the text of the appeal.
The coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Xuanhua (Hebei province), Mgr Augustine Cui Tai was taken away by government officials in mid-April 2018. So far, his fate remains unknown.
Mgr Cui has endured oppression for a long time, defending the faith and freedom of conscience. He has rejected the government’s religious policy, which violates the principles of faith, and has refused to accept the leadership of and membership in the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
Since 1993, Mgr Cui has been repeatedly subjected to forced labour to be re-educated, to detention and house arrest on charges like "illegal missionary activities" or "illegal and unauthorised religious meetings", all because of his practice of religious freedom.
In particular, in the last 11 years, i.e. since 2007, the authorities have illegally detained Mgr Cui or placed him under house arrest almost non-stop, without any reason nor legal process.
During this time, Mgr Cui was often locked up in secret detention centres, or in hotels, or taken away for forced "travel" under the escort of government officials.
Only during Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival (of the moon), was he occasionally allowed to go home for a brief visit to see his elderly sister. For the rest of the time he always kept under guard and government control.
Such actions by government authorities constitute a very serious violation of fundamental human rights and religious freedom, guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution and human rights international conventions.
In recent years, Bishop Cui’s health has worsened considerably with problems like severe gastritis, neurasthenia, vertigo, etc. We are very concerned about his situation and strongly condemn the Chinese government’s violation of fundamental human rights and religious freedom. We appeal to the Chinese government to:
1. guarantee the personal safety and health of Mgr Cui Tai and provide him with adequate medical care;
2. respect religious freedom and immediately release Bishop Cui Tai without conditions;
3. release other Churchmen unjustly detained, including Bishop Su Zhizhi and Father Liu Honggen of the Diocese of Baoding, Hebei province.
The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong
Short biographical notes of Mgr Cui Tai
Mgr Augustine Cui Tai was born in 1950 in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province. In 1990, after years of education and training at the seminary of Baoding (Hebei), he was ordained in the priesthood by Bishop John Shi Enxiang of the Diocese of Yixian (Hebei). In 2013 he was ordained coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Xuanhua (Hebei). Mgr Cui is a pastor who leads a simple and orderly life, firm in his faith and full of virtue.