1991-02-01 00:00:00

In Hebei province, northern China, at least four Chinese bishops and two priests not recognized by the government have been apprehended by security bureau officials since December, Hong Kong-based Catholic sources said.

Among the detainees are the successor of Bishop Peter Joseph Fan Xueyan of Baoding, one of the four remaining prelates in China appointed by Pope Pius XII, and the deputy of Bishop Liu Guandong of Yixian, elected president of the underground episcopal conference set up in November 1989.

Anthony Liu Bainian told UCA News Jan. 30 that he had not heard of such matters which are not part of the work of the government-approved Chinese Catholic Bishops´ College or of Church administrative bodies.

Liu is a vice president of the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Church Administrative Commission and a standing committee member of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA).

The four bishops were reportedly held on Dec. 13 and 14, 1990, in the cities and counties of Baoding and Yixian, respectively 150 and 170 kilometers northwest of Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital.

Some sources said the four bishops were kept somewhere in Baoding county to attend a "study seminar" and had not been freed since then.

Catholic sources claimed that at least 20 more Catholic leaders in Baoding and Yixian were also detained before Christmas.

In a separate incident, two priests of Handan and Daming were apprehended since Christmas, reportedly also to attend a "study seminar" in Yongnian, near Handan, 160 kilometers south of Shijiazhuang.

Among the six identified detainees are Bishop Peter Chen Jianzhang and Auxiliary Bishop Paul Shi Chunjie, both of Baoding diocese.

Bishop Chen was ordained bishop in 1982. He succeeded Bishop Fan Xueyan of Baoding after Bishop Fan resigned in mid-1990.

Auxiliary Bishop Shi, 71, was ordained priest on June 1, 1947, and received his episcopal ordination in April 1982.

The other two bishops held are of Yixian diocese: Auxiliary Bishop Paul Liu Shuhe, known as "Second Liu," and Auxiliary Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang.

Bishop Liu, who was ordained bishop in 1982, filled in as administrator of the Yixian diocese in place of Bishop Liu Guandong who was sentenced to a reform-through-labor farm for three years on May 21, 1990.

Bishop Liu Guandong, known as "Elder Liu," was arrested soon after he was elected president of the underground episcopal conference Nov. 21, 1989.

Sources claimed the four bishops were apprehended before Christmas because the government did not want the Catholic leaders to contact their followers during Christmas celebrations, which normally attract thousands of faithful.

For the same reason, they said, retired Bishop Fan of Baoding has been missing since the last week of November 1990, probably taken on another "journey" to avoid the Church festival.

The two detained priests of Handan and Daming dioceses were reportedly served summons by public security officials to attend a "study seminar on anti-pornography, evil-ridding, anti-covert-activities campaign" at Yongnian.

One Catholic source said Father Han Dingxiang was summoned on Dec. 26 after saying Mass in Handan.

Ordained in 1986, the 54-year-old Father Han was jailed in Beijing between 1960 and 1979, and was briefly detained again in 1989.

Father An Shi´en of Daming, 280 kilometers south of Shijiazhuang, reportedly received a similar summons. He was ordained in 1942.

Sources said the two clerics had not been released since then.

The sources claimed that more than 20 other Church leaders of Handan and Xingtai dioceses, all unaffiliated with the open Church, were also asked to attend the seminar but some had been released.

Sources learnt that public security officials advised the "seminar participants" to join the CPA and to maintain unity in the country.

Yet, sources said, the officials´ move antagonized underground Catholics in that area, who persistently refused to join in any government-approved religious activities and caused the further split in the Church.

Sources described the latest apprehensions as "another wave of arrests" after the reported arrests in late 1989 and early 1990.


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