ucanews.com reporter, Xuanhua
Updated: November 29, -0001 04:34 PM GMT
Catholic faithful in Xuanhua diocese in Hebei say they are concerned about the safety of a priest arrested last week. Father Peter Zhang Guangjun was taken from the home of a Catholic family by public security officers on January 13 and has not been seen since. Someone knocked on at the door of the house claiming to be from a local gas company, Church sources told ucanews.com. When the door opened about 10 men barged in forcing one layperson aside and took the priest away, they said. There was no time for him to put on his coat and shoes. He was taken away in freezing temperatures, the sources said. It was hoped Father Zhang had been sent back to his hometown in Zhuolu County, but parishioners who went there were left disappointed after a local official refused to reveal any information about the priest, one source added. Another source said Father Zhang, 40, suffers from heart disease and was serving as assistant pastor in Xuanhua parish, taking care of “underground” Catholics. He is a man of virtue and well respected by parishioners, the source said. Since his arrest parishioners have organized 24-hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and some have begun novenas to ask God to protect their priest. Church sources believe government officials are trying to make the underground clergy carry a “priest card” (work permit) and to submit to the leadership of open Church authorities and the government. Ucanews.com has learnt that nearly half of Xuanhua’s 40 priests now carry priest cards, including open and underground priests. Related reports China detains two priests in Hebei‘Underground’ priests still missing after months CH12920.1637
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