Chinese security officers arrested two priests belonging to the unregistered Catholic Church in the Hebei province, China. No official statement explaining the reason for the arrest has been released at this moment.
Father Lu Genjun, age 44, and Father Guo Yanli, age 39, were apprehended, Feb. 17 last week, as they waited for a friend at the Baoding train station. Father Lu, ordained in 1990, was arrested on three occasions since 1990, and has served three years in a labor camp. Father Guo, ordained in 1998, had no criminal record prior to his arrest.
Hebei has long been an enclave for the largest unregistered Catholic community in the country. The government currently recognizes the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) as being the sole legitimate authority for Catholicism in the nation. Believers refusing to acknowledge the CPA often face police scrutiny and arrests. The presence of both the CPA and unregistered churches remains a source of division within the Catholic Church in China.
Last year November, Bishop Jia Zhiguo, a prominent leader with the unregistered church in Hebei, was placed under arrest. The bishop, arrested on 8 separate occasions and previously jailed for 20 years, remains in police custody. In September 2005, Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation president, Joseph Kung, in a letter urged China President Hu Jintao “to bring modern China into an era of true religious freedom.”
Father Guo is reportedly being held in a detention center in Xushui County. Father Lu’s whereabouts remains unknown.
For more information on Christian persecution in China, visit the China Aid website online.