Priest of underground Catholic Church in Xiwanzi, Qiaodong District, Hebei province arrested

Beijing  (AsiaNews)

A group of law enforcement officers stopped Fr. Song Wanjun of the clergy of Xiwanzi, while driving his car at 4 in the morning. Place of detention unknown. The Northern Province, stronghold of Catholic China, still targeted by the authorities. recently
reported that the Rev. Song Wanjun, priest of the underground Catholic Church
in Xiwanzi, Qiaodong District, Hebei province was detained by 10 law enforcement
officials at 4 a.m., Aug. 7 while he was driving. The news of Rev. Song’s
arrest has been confirmed by the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation.
The Diocese of Xiwanzi is located in the northern part of
Hubei province, which, in recent years, has faced harsh treatment from the
Chinese government. According to
sources, at least 20 Catholic priests is the Zhangjiakou area of Hebei have
been detained in the past 20 years. These priests have been tortured and
pressured to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). Retired Pope
Benedict XVI has described, in a letter to the Chinese Church, the TSPM as
being “incompatible” with the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Priests persecuted over the years include Monsignor Yao
Ling, the Rev. Li Huisheng, the Rev. Wang Zhong, Monsignor James Su Zhimin, and
Monsignor Cosma Shi Enxiang. Monsignor Yao has since died while the Revs. Li
and Wang were sentenced to seven and three years in prison, respectively.
Monsignor Zhimin, currently 82-year-old, bishop of Baoding, was arrested Oct.
8, 1997 on charges unknown. Also unknown is whether Monsignor Zhimin ever
received a trial and where he is being detained. He was briefly located
receiving medical care at a Baoding hospital in November 2003, according to Unfortunately, after a rushed
visit with relatives, Monsignor Zhimin once again vanished. Finally, Monsignor
Cosma, 92, bishop of Yixian, was arrested on April 13, 2001. Unlike Monsignor
Zhimin, there are no signs of Monsignor Cosma’s whereabouts.
Hebei province is the one of the areas with the largest
Catholic population. “The diocese of Baoding alone, one of the largest and with
the strongest presence of underground Catholics, has at least 50 thousand
Catholics. There are 120 priests, official and underground,” the article on stated.
Rev. Song, 39, became an ordained priest 11 years ago. Since
becoming ordained, the priest spent years in Zhangbei county and Chongli county
before being assigned to Xiwanzi.

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