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China: Bishop and 10 Priests Arrested and Subjected to ‘Political Sessions’ in Xinxiang

Ever since China’s the New Regulations on Religious Activities came into effect at the beginning of May, the Chinese government’s war against Christianity has taken on a new virulence. These arrests are just the most recent manifestation of its relentless and ongoing efforts to destroy Christianity and create a new pseudo-Christianity that advances the goals of the Communist Party. This threatens all the Christians of the country, including the tiny community of Orthodox Christians in China.

China offers yet another instance of the persecution of Christians by governing officials that is unfortunately on the increase not only in China, but in all too many other nations around the world.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“Bishop and 10 Priests Arrested and Subjected to ‘Political Sessions’ in Xinxiang,” International Christian Concern, May 25, 2021:

05/25/2021 China (International Christian Concern) – In two days, almost the entirety of the clergy working at the apostolic prefecture of Xinxiang were taken out by a large police operation.

On May 20, 100 policemen from the Hebei province entered a small factory building in the town of Shaheqiao, which was being used as a seminary, and arrested four priests who are seminary professors, and three other priests who carry out pastoral work. Additionally, ten students attending the seminary were arrested. Three managed to escape but were later arrested as well. The seminary students were released to their families and forbidden to continue studying theology.

On May 21, the bishop of Xinxiang, Msgr. Giuseppe Zhang Weizhu, 63, was arrested. He has served as the bishop of the diocese of Xinxiang since 1991.

The bishop and the 10 priests arrested were taken to a hotel, where they were held in solitary confinement. On May 23, they were subjected to “political sessions,” which are brainwashing sessions designed to inculcate the principles of religious freedom granted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Since the apostolic prefecture of Xinxiang is not recognized by the Chinese government, its existence is considered “illegal” and “criminal.” Given the size of the police force deployed, it is believed that the raid on the seminary and the arrests of the priests and bishop were part of a carefully planned operation.

In China, the New Regulations on Religious Activities, released by China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs in February 2021, just came into effect on May 1. Article 16 states that Catholic bishops must be approved and ordained by the state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Bishop’s Conference. Clergy must support the leadership of the CCP and must regularly apply for recertification. The new regulations allow religious activities (including seminaries) only in government registered and controlled institutions.

Bishop Weizhu and the ten arrested priests are considered “criminals” under the New Regulations since they are not recognized by the Chinese government or “submitted” to the CCP. Since the establishment of these New Regulations, there has been an increase in persecution, especially against “unofficial” religious communities….

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