NEWS ALERT: China Detains Ailing Catholic Bishop Jia Zhiguo

Hebei Province where he was hospitalized, fellow believers said.

The bishop of Heibei's Diocese of Zheng Ding was arrested by religious bureau personnel June 25, said the US-based Cardinal Kung Foundation, which represents many Catholics of the unofficial church movement. He was "still very sick with his catheter in place after his operation in early June," the group claimed in a message monitored by BosNewsLife.

In the morning authorities "informed the nursing staff taking care of Bishop Jia at the local hospital that a car was being sent to take the bishop home to Wu Qiu  [They] forced the bishop out of the hospital before the completion of his medical care," said the Cardinal Kung Foundation.

When by noon his supporters still did not see him coming home, "they began to inquire to the religious bureau about the reason for the delay. The religious bureau told them that the bishop was being sent for "education" for several days," the group added.

VATICAN DELEGATION

Fellow Christians reportedly believed the delay "was due to the arrival of a Vatican delegation in Beijing" because the [Chinese] authorities have "a policy of taking the bishop away when there have been important people in town," it said. Investigators reported that he is still in detention at an unknown location.
 
Bishop Jia, 72, was ordained bishop in 1980. He spent previously 20 years in jail for and has been under strict surveillance for many years, Catholics say. Among other activities, he takes care for about 100 handicapped orphans in his house. "As far as we know, this is the ninth time that he has been arrested since January 2004," the Cardinal Kung Foundation explained.

News of his arrest came shortly after Pastor Xu Shuangfu and two other pastors were sentenced to death by the Intermediate People's Court of Shuangyashan City in Heilongjiang Province. Xu (also known as Xu Wenku and Xu Shengguang) is the leader of the Three Grades of Servants group which claims to have over half a million members. He first disappeared in April 2004, and has remained in detention since that time, Christian investigators said.

TORTURE USED

Xu and sixteen other leaders of the Three Grades of Servants were accused of murdering leaders of the Eastern Lightning group and defrauding their own congregation of millions of Yuan. "Evidence revealed in court showed that confessions had been obtained through severe torture," said human rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) in a statement to BosNewsLife Friday, July 7.

Xu was quoted as saying that he "was hung in the air for five hours and suffered sleep deprivation" for five days and nights. In addition, he claimed that "interrogators tied his fingers, toes and genitals with wire and then connected the wire to an electrical supply."

In a separate case, Pastor Zhang Rongliang was sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment last week, on charges of "falsifying a passport, obtaining passports under false pretences and illegal border crossing." The pastor has denied the charges, but his lawyers are not optimistic about the success of an appeal.

10 MILLION MEMBERS

Pastor Zhang is the leader of China for Christ Church, which is estimated by some to have around 10 million members. He was detained on 1 December 2004 as part of what rights watchers see as a government-led crackdown on unofficial churches. Another pastor, 46-year-old Wang Shixiu was detained Thursday, July 6, as she was shopping in her village near Langzhong City in central Sichuan province, said the US-based religious advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA).

In addition seven of thirty house church leaders arrested during raids on May 28 are still in custody, the group claimed. Joseph Kung, the President of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said the incidents show that the Olympic Committee should "consider canceling the Games in China in order to preserve their good name and spirit. Otherwise, the noble name of "Olympic" could be severely tarnished by its association with religious persecution and human rights violations in China."

China's Communist government denies human rights abuses saying that Christians are free to worship in the official denominations known as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council (Protestant) and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which does not recognize the Pope. So far the Olympic Committee has refused to cancel the Games, which are scheduled to be held in 2008. (With BosNewsLife News Center, BosNewsLife Research and reports from China). 

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