China Arrests Underground Priest

Feb 14, 2003 01:36 PM EST

Rev. Dong Yingmu, a priest in China's underground Roman Catholic church was detained after conducting a secret Christmas Mass, reports from a U.S. religious activist said Wednesday.

According to Joseph Kung, president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, Rev. Yingmu, 37, was caught up in Baoding, a city in the central province of Hubei with a large underground church.

Kung said Dong was detained the week of Dec. 23, though he didn't know the date and has been transferred to a prison in Hubei.

An official of the Baoding Religious Affairs Bureau, on the other hand, denied Dong’s detention saying that they was no such name detained in jail.

"We've never heard of this case. No such things happened," said the religious affairs official, who wouldn't give his name.

Numerous detentions of underground priests have been reported in Baoding, where Kung said the unofficial Catholic church has as many as 100,000 members.

The city's underground Catholic bishop and auxiliary bishop have not been seen since police detained them in 1997 and 1996, respectively, according to the foundation.

According to reports, there are at least nine underground priests in Baoding in detention or serving sentences of up to three years in labor camps.

The Vatican also added that there are more than 50 underground Chinese Catholic bishops or priests have been detained or live under house arrest or police surveillance.

By Albert H. Lee
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