China Aid Association
Church, appeal for bishops release
Hong Kong’s Justice and peace commission has organised a mass in suffrage of Msgr. John Han Dingxiang, bishop of Yongnian who died “in mysterious circumstances”. Appeal for full religious freedom ahead of the Olympics and for the release of all Catholics detained “without just cause” in China.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) — A mass in suffrage of Msgr. John Han Dingxiang, bishop of Yongnian who died “in mysterious circumstances” and cremated immediately afterwards, but also an appeal for the release of all Catholics “unjustly” detained in China. This is the objective set out by Hong Kong’s Justice and peace Commission who have organised a mass for November 2nd next to which all of the faithful across the territory have been invited.
The ceremony will be presided over by Fr. Jacob Kwok in a church in Kowloon. According to Fr. Gianni Criveller, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, and expert on the Church in China, “this initiative is laudable, because it underlines the closeness of Catholics in China and the universality of the Church.
Moreover it is the first time that a mass of this nature will be celebrated here, in which a deceased member of the Chinese Church will be remembered”.
The initiative was launched by the Commission, which published an article in the diocesan weekly Kung Kao Po. In the article Fr. Criveller goes on to explain, “The seriousness of Msgr. Han’s death is underlined (to find out more, click here) and the many interrogatives regarding the situation of the Church, which Beijing has still to answer. What’s more, the members of the Commission recall that the Olympics should be and occasion for greater openness in China, which has yet to concede full religious freedom”.
The death of the Yongnian bishop provoked widespread disdain among figures across the Catholic world. Even the Vatican daily, Osservatore Romano, expressed it’s “sorrow at the death of the prelate and the circumstance surrounding his burial, which forbid the participation of priests and Catholic faithful”.
The Kung Kao Po article, goes on to recall that “religious freedom is a fundamental human right, and this is why it must be conceded to every individual. We are particularly concerned for the welfare of elderly and ill bishops, who should be able to receive the necessary medical care”. Among these are underlined the “unjust living conditions” of Msgr. Giulio Jia Zhiguo, bishop of Zhengding; Msgr. James Su Zhimin, bishop of Baoding and missing since 1997 and Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang of Yixian, arrested in 2001.
Every year, concludes Fr. Criveller, “The Commission celebrates a mass for the deceased of Tiananmen, therefore these initiatives held to remember the sensitive situations in China are not unknown. This mass represents another step forward, a considerable gesture that must be supported”.
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