China Authorities Raid Underground Catholic Church in Hebei Province, Detain Two Priests and Several Seminarians and Nuns

A local resident rides a bicycle past a church in Xiaoshan, a commercial suburb of Hangzhou, the capital of China’s east Zhejiang province December 21, 2006. REUTERS/Lang Lang/Files

China’s communist authorities this week raided an underground Catholic community in Hebei province and detained two priests and at least a dozen seminarians and nuns whose whereabouts remain unknown, according to a report.

The detained priests, nuns and seminarians belong to the diocese of Baoding city, which is one of the largest and has at least 50,000 underground Catholics, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.

The raid took place Monday morning, when Fr. Lu Genjun, former vicar general of Baoding, was also detained, ICC said, quoting Asia News.

The city authorities released two seminarians a few hours later, but no one knows where the others are being kept. The intention of the officials could be to force the clergy to join the state-sanctioned Catholic open church, ICC remarked.

Last month, China and the Vatican signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops, drawing criticism from rights groups who warned the deal would further hamper religious freedom in the communist country.

The deal, the details of which have never been published, permits the Chinese government to propose names for new bishops to the Vatican through its state-approved Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, with the pope having veto power on the decision.

In turn, the Vatican recognizes the legitimacy of bishops previously appointed by the Chinese government and excommunicated by the church.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Anugrah Kumar