ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
Updated: February 08, 2019 09:55 AM GMT
Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, holds a poster calling for the freedom of missing Bishop Cui Tai last May. (Photo from Cardinal Zen's Facebook page)
A bishop and two priests of the underground community of Hebei province in northern China who had been detained last year were able to go home for the Lunar New Year.
They were Coadjutor Bishop Cui Tai, Father Su Guipeng and Father Zhao He of Xuanhua Diocese.
Bishop Cui had not been seen since mid-April last year and his whereabouts were unknown.
A source named John told ucanews.com that the bishop was allowed to go home on Jan. 24 to visit his elderly sister for the Lunar New Year but was banned from management of religious activities.
Bishop Cui, 68, who has been in poor health in recent years, is weak due to severe gastritis and weighs only 52 kilograms.
Father Zhao, who serves Dongcheng Catholic Church, was taken away by United Front Work Department (UFWD) personnel of Yangyuan County last October and detained at a hotel to learn the government’s new religious policy. He was also allowed to go home on Jan. 24.
Father Su, who serves Shadifang parish, was placed under home arrest last October so that he could be indoctrinated on government policies.
John said Father Su went home on Dec. 21 but was banned from management of parish affairs.
Another source, Peter, told ucanews.com that the government had allowed the bishop and priests to stay at home for the Lunar New Year but they must not organize or participate in any religious activities and be contactable by authorities at all times.
“As for what happens after Lunar New Year, it is very likely that they will be house arrested again,” Peter said.
An anonymous Catholic source told ucanews.com that Bishop Cui had been repeatedly arrested since 2007 and only allowed to go home for a few days to visit his elderly sister for festivals such as Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
“The authorities allowed the bishop to return home last Lunar New Year but took him away again last April,” he said.
Peter said Bishop Cui and the priests had refused to accept the authority of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association “in order to maintain the integrity of the faith.”
“Unless the Church gives clear instructions that it is okay to join or accept the leadership of the Patriotic Association, we can't do anything contradictory to our faith and our own conscience; otherwise how can we pass the true faith to others?" Peter said.