ROME (AsiaNews): Chinese authorities recently arrested Monsignor Julius Jia Zhiguo, underground bishop of Zhengding (Hebei), to prevent him from disseminating Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter to Chinese Catholics and organising meetings in which the letter’s contents would be explained to the faithful.
AsiaNews sources confirmed that policemen and members of the Religious Affairs Bureau on August 23 picked up the prelate and took him to an undisclosed location.
The bishop, who is not recognised by government authorities, was preparing a pastoral letter and organising meetings for the faithful of his diocese in order to explain what the papal letter said.
Whilst expressing profound respect for China’s authorities, the Pontiff’s June 30 letter called for total religious freedom for the mainland’s Christian community, slamming any interference by political organisations in the internal life of the Church, explicitly singling out the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association or CPCA whose raison d’être is to establish a national Church separate from the Holy See.
The CPCA seal was placed on the entrance to Msgr Jia’s residence and to the building he and members of his congregation use for meetings, a clear sign that his arrest was “anti-papal” in intent.
Unlike the CPCA, the Chinese Government’s response has been quite muted.
The CPCA has instead blocked sites that contain the letter and prohibited its dissemination.