In a new wave of arrests against unofficial Christian churches, police arrested eight priests and two seminarians from the Catholic Church in Baoding Diocese who had gathered for a retreat. According to sources, the Fathers Huo Junlong, Zhang Zhenqian, Huang, and seven others (whose names are still not known) were taken into custody around 6 p.m. on August 6 in the village of Sujiazhuang, Quyang Country in the Hebei province.
The Kung Foundation, which released the information about the police raid, reported that 20 police vehicles and a large number of police officers surrounded the village and launched a house-to-house search for the priests and the seminarians. “The operation was so quick that few people in the village realized what was going on before it was over,” the Connecticut-based agency stated. Those arrested are now being detained in the Baoding Security Bureau.
Under Chinese law, religion can be practiced only in places registered with the State Administration of Religious Affairs. Private gatherings are considered illegal and those who participate, outlaws.
Since 1997 the Chinese authorities have been pursuing an eradication campaign against underground religious communities. Priests and believers have been jailed for refusing to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), which is under the control of the Chinese Communist Party.
More recently 3 bishops have been arrested and subjected to interrogations and sessions of political indoctrination to force them to join the CCPA.
The Vatican has officially protested against the latest arrest of clergymen calling it an “act that would be inadmissible . . . in a country governed by the rule of law.”
The director of China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs Ye Xiaowen, currently visiting Finland, has denied that religious persecution is taking place in his country.