Arrests of Unregistered Catholics Coincide with Death of Pope John Paul II

April 12, 2005

Since March 20, the Holy See and the Cardinal Kung Foundation, a U.S.-based NGO monitoring the unregistered Catholic Church in China, have reported six incidents of detention or heightened surveillance of unregistered Catholics.

* On March 20, James Lin Xili, the 86-year-old bishop of Wenzhou in Zhejiang, was detained.
* On March 22, Gao Xinyou, a collaborator in the pastoral care of the laity in Wenzhou in Zhejiang, was detained.
* On March 30, Zhao Kexun, a priest and administrator of the diocese of Xuanhua in Hebei, was detained.
* On March 31, Yao Liang, the over 80-year-old auxiliary bishop of Xiwanzi in Hebei, was detained.
* On April 1, Wang Jinling, a priest of Zhangjiakou in Hebei, was detained.
* On April 3, Hao Jingli and Jia Zhiguo, bishops of Xiwanzi and Zhengding in Hebei, were reported to have been placed under 24-hour surveillance recently, while Chinese security agencies generally intensified their surveillance of unregistered bishops.

Though Chinese officials have refused to discuss any of these detentions, most analysts believe that the detentions, at least those since March 30, are related closely to the final illness and death of Pope John Paul II. Chinese public security officers commonly detain bishops on religious holidays and significant anniversaries, probably to prevent them from leading mass religious gatherings. The recent detentions also serve as a warning to other Catholic clergy not to arrange large Masses or processions in honor of the deceased pope.