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Two underground Catholic priests arrested in north China

Posted by Author on July 15, 2008

Cardinal Kung Foundation, July 13, 2008-

Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A. — In his pastoral letter to China last year, Pope Benedict XVI established the date May 24 as the day “for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China… liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai…..I would like that date to be kept by you as a day of prayer for the Church in China…”

Upon the encouragement of Pope Benedict, and as a tradition in honoring Our Lady of Sheshan 佘山聖母, thousands of Chinese made a pilgrimage to Sheshan 佘山in Shanghai in May. Most of them had tacit approval from the Chinese government. Those who had no such approval risked arrest and detention. The entire underground clergy of the Shanghai Diocese was placed under house arrest during the month of May in order to prevent them from making pilgrimage to Sheshan. Other underground Catholics were warned by the government official not to participate in visiting Sheshan on May 24.

Among the pilgrims were two underground priests from Xuanhua 宣化 Hebei 河北. Father Zhang Jianlin 章建林, age 42, was intercepted by Chinese authorities in Nanking 南京on his way to Sheshan to participate in the prayers for China on May 24. Father Zhang was sent back by the security police to Xuanhua where he was promptly arrested and detained. Father Zhangli 張利, age 45, announcing his intention to go to Sheshan on May 24, was arrested and detained few days before May 24 in order to prevent him from going to Sheshan. Both priests disappeared while they were in the hands of Chinese authorities. There has been no news on these two priests since their arrests. We do not know what is happening to them and where they are.

The underground diocese of Xuanhua has many houses dedicated to prayers. They have now all been forbidden by the Chinese authorities to be used as prayer-houses. Those larger houses have now been fitted with video cameras by the authorities in order to have continuous monitoring of these houses of worship to make sure that no prayers are to be recited there……. (more details from Cardinal Kung Foundation)

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