NGO Reports Detention of Unregistered Catholic Priest

March 31, 2005

Chinese security officials detained an unregistered Catholic priest in Hebei province on March 30, reports the Cardinal Kung Foundation, a U.S.-based NGO focusing on China’s unregistered Catholics. The priest’s whereabouts are currently unknown. Security officers also detained a Catholic layman with the priest but soon released him. The priest, 75-year old Rev. Zhao Kexun, is the administrator for Bishop Zhao Zhendong, Bishop of Xuanhua diocese in Hebei, who was detained in December 2004. Bishop Zhao’s whereabouts are also unknown. According to Agence France-Presse, the local Religious Affairs Bureau and police refused to comment.

Many unregistered dioceses operate without a bishop, typically because government authorities have detained the bishop or because he has died and the Holy See does not appoint a successor. In either case, an administrator guides the diocese. With both its bishop and administrator now under detention, it is unclear how the diocese will operate. Most of the Catholic clerics in Chinese government detention hail from Hebei province, a stronghold of the unregistered Catholic Church in China.