Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Good News

Chinese underground bishop released

Apr. 25 (AsiaNews) - A Chinese bishop of the "underground" Catholic Church has been released after 5 months in police custody, the AsiaNews service reports. He remains under house arrest.

Bishop Giulio Jia Zhiguo returned on April 19 to his residence, where he is under constant police surveillance. His release occurred while Chinese leader Hu Jintao was visiting the United States, local sources pointed out.

The bishop had been arrested last November 8, kept in isolation, and subjected to heavy pressure to join the government-sponsored Catholic Patriotic Association, AsiaNews reports. This was the 8th arrest for Bishop Jia since 2004; at the age of 70, he has now spent 20 years in prison.

Bishop Jia is among the most prominent leaders of the Catholic community in the Hebei province, where government officials have undertaken a vigorous campaign to suppress the underground Church. Despite the frequent arrest and interrogation of Catholic clerics, the "unofficial" Church has flourished in Hebei; there are an estimated 1 million people active in the underground Church.