NGO Reports Detention of Seven Unregistered Catholic Priests

April 28, 2005

Chinese security officials detained seven unregistered Catholic priests in Hebei province on April 27, reports the Cardinal Kung Foundation, a U.S.-based NGO that advocates for the religious freedom of China’s unregistered Catholics. The seven priests all come from the diocese of Zhengding in Hebei, and were arrested in Wuqiu village of Jinzhou city while attending a religious retreat conducted by Bishop Jia Zhiguo. Bishop Jia had just been released from 24-hour surveillance, maintained between the death of Pope John Paul II and the installation of Pope Benedict XVI (March 30- April 25). Bishop Jia is said to be among the most effective leaders of the unregistered Catholic Church; his diocese is among those most tightly controlled by the Chinese government.

The Chinese news media has carried a number of reports of official Chinese government condolences and congratulations to the Holy See, but the period of papal transition seems to have interrupted only briefly Chinese government persecution of unregistered Catholics. The week before Pope John Paul II’s death was marked by six incidents of Chinese government persecution of Catholics.