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China: Two months after police arrested a bishop and 10 priests, their fate and location remain unknown

The arrests took place on May 20 and 21. Bishop Joseph and the arrested priests and seminarians were accused of “violating the country’s repressive new regulations on religious affairs.” These New Regulations on Religious Activities came into effect at the beginning of May, and have given a new virulence to the Chinese government’s war against Christianity. 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.

“Arrested Chinese bishop, priests untraced two months on,” UCA News, July 20, 2021:

Two months since Chinese police arrested a Vatican-approved bishop, 10 priests and an unspecified number of seminarians for violation of religious rules, their fate and location remain unknown, prompting a Christian rights group to express concerns about their safety.

Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of Xinxiang in Henan province was arrested on May 21, a day after police detained the priests and seminarians for allegedly violating the country’s repressive new regulations on religious affairs.

The arrests came after the diocese decided to use an abandoned factory building as a seminary and assigned priests for religious formation, media reports claimed.

International Christian Concern (ICC), a US-based Christian group monitoring persecution of Christians across the globe, issued a statement on July 16 calling for the release of the bishop, priests and seminarians.

Earlier, ICC reported that those arrested were subjected to “political lessons” that are brainwashing sessions designed to inculcate the principles of religious freedom granted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Bishop Zhang, 63, has been leading the diocese since 1991 following his secret ordination but he faced constant pressure from Chinese authorities and was barred from observing duties as a bishop.

The diocese, created by the Vatican in 1945, was never recognized by the state-aligned Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA).

Dioceses headed by Vatican-approved bishops are part of the underground church.

In September 2018, the Vatican-China agreement was signed for two years with an aim to unify the Catholic Church in China with the global church. It was renewed for another two years in 2020 but there has been an increase in persecution against the underground church, local Catholics say.

The renewed clampdown aims to end the underground church by criminalizing and arresting its clergy as they work outside state-approved church bodies, they claim. This year Open Doors, an international Christian charity, ranked China among the 20 countries where Christians face the most severe forms of persecution….

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