DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     January 6, 1999     vol. 10, no. 3

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Several Italian newspapers carried stories on January 5 recording the protests of Fides, the Vatican news agency, over the torture and sexual abuse of a Catholic priest in China who is active in the underground Church.

          "The Chinese Communists are continuing their work of persecution against Chinese Catholics who remain faithful to Rome," reported Las Stampa.

          Fides had called international attention to the abuse of Catholics with a story (carried on Monday by Catholic World News) about Father Li Qinghua, of the Hebei diocese, who has reportedly been tortured, brainwashed, and repeatedly subjected to temptation by police- employed prostitutes since his arrest on November 15. "Other priests have received the same treatment in recent months," Fides charged.

          La Stampa said that these reports matched the pattern of wholesale religious persecution in China, which has continued in part because of "the indifference of international authorities." The daily recalled the case of Bishop Su Zhimin of Baoding, who was imprisoned last October along with 26 of his priests. Another Italian paper, Il Messagero, cited the case of Bishop Tommaso Zeng Jingmu, who spent 32 years in prison before his release in May 1998. And yet another paper, Il Tempo, remarked that the latest outrages had occurred "despite the fact that since 1994 China has been busily assuring us of the religious freedom on its territory."

          Meanwhile, in Beijing China's Communist government on Tuesday denied the report by Fides that Catholic priests are arrested and tortured in a special prison unit designed to blackmail them.

          The Fides new agency reported on Monday that Father Li Qinghua, 31, was arrested in November and transported to a prison unit where he was tortured and then young women were used to tempt him to violate chastity and his vow of celibacy. Other priests told Fides that they had been detained and that those who succumb to the deception are blackmailed with video from hidden cameras.

          Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao denied any knowledge of the Father Li's predicament, but expressed disbelief at the veracity of the report. "I don't know the details of the case and I don't know the source of the information," Zhu said. "But I can say clearly that these reports have not been confirmed." He also dismissed the report as "irresponsible" and denied the existence of underground churches in the atheist Communist state. "So-called underground churches do not exist in China," he said.

          Many Catholics belong to the underground Catholic Church in China which remains loyal to the Church's teachings and the pope. The government only allows membership in the state-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association which eschews ties to foreign organizations and denies certain Church doctrines.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

January 6, 1999       volume 10, no. 3


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