03/09/2004, 00.00
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Mons. Wei Jingyi, Bishop of Underground Church arrested

Rome (AsiaNews) – Mons. Wei Jingyi, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the underground (unofficial) diocese of Qiqihar, was arrested on the way from Harbin Airport (in Heilongjiang, Northeast China). The news was announced by the Kung Foundation of Stanford (Conn., USA).

According to the information received, the bishop had gone to the airport to meet some foreign friends. Upon leaving the airport at the tollbooth, he was detained and arrested.

Mons. Wei Jingyi, 46, is the youngest bishop of the unofficial church, which does not accept the controls placed by the government over religious activities. For the govenment,  not to submit to its control means to declare yourself an enemy of public order. Mons. Wei Jingyi was ordained bishop of Qiqihar, in 1995, in Heilongjian, one of the diocese in northern China. He was known for his fidelity and affection for the Holy Father and his involvement in evangelizaton.

For this, Mons. Wei Jing Yi was subjected to 4 years in forced labor, from 1987-1989 and 1990-1992.

 For a time he was the Secretary of the Conference of Underground Bishops, which was born in the 1990's and was almost immediately disbanded with a wave of arrests.

The diocese of Qiqihar, where evangelization by Swiss Bethlehem missionaries began in 1900, today counts 50,000 faithful Catholics and dozens of priests and sisters.

According to other sources,  there are several bishops in prison, or whose ministries have been interrupted. Around 20 priests are in prisons or labor camps. The underground Bishops of Baoding, Mons. Su Zhimin and his Auxiliary, An Shuxin, have spent the longest time in prison.  They disappeared at the hands of the police in 1996.

There are also persecutions in the official church, caused by its movement closer to and reconciliation with Rome- which more than 80 % of bishops are involved in. Many pastors and seminarians are submitted to governmental control and political meetings meant to instill fidelity to the religious policy of the Communist Party.

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