DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     July 7, 1999     vol. 10, no. 130

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          HONG KONG (CWNews.com) -- A priest serving the Catholic Church in China has died, a seminarian has been tortured, and four lay people have been arrested and sentenced to "re-education" camps, as authorities in the continue their persecution of Catholics loyal to Rome.

          Father Yan Weiping, the vicar general of the Yixian diocese, was recently found dead on a street in Beijing, according to a report carried by the Fides news service. The priest-- who had been active in the underground Church in Beijing-- had been arrested in May while celebrating Mass in a private home. The Cardinal Kung Foundation, an American-based group which collects information about the Catholic Church in China, believes that he was killed and then thrown out the window of a building in Beijing.

          The Cardinal Kung Foundation also reports that Wang Qing, a seminarian in the Baoding diocese, was beaten, hanged by his hands, and forced to drink a "filthy fluid" after he was arrested while making a pastoral visit to a family in Baoding.

          On Pentecost Sunday, May 23, government agents tried to arrest a priest who was celebrating Mass in a private home. When their effort was foiled, they arrested the four lay people who helped the priest to escape. The Fides news service has also received reports of lay people who were beaten by government officials, and even had their homes set on fire, because they were found to be keeping the sacred vessels used for celebrating Mass.

          These incidents occurred in the Chinese province of Hebei, surrounding Beijing, which is the home to an estimated 1 million Catholics loyal to the Holy See. The Communist government of China has aggressively sought to discourage membership in this "underground" Church, while encouraging Catholics to join the government-approved "Patriotic Catholic Association."

          Fides believes that the Beijing government is stepping up its efforts to suppress Catholicism, and other religious influences, as the country approaches the 50th anniversary of the Communist government in China. That campaign is particularly urgent because Christianity, along with Buddhism, have become increasingly popular among the Chinese people in recent years.

          On July 1, during a ceremony for the 78th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, President Jiang Zemin harshly criticized citizens who "believe in superstitions" and urged them to adhere instead to "historical materialism." And for several weeks the Communist People's Daily newspaper has published a series of articles condemning "religious idealism."

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

July 7, 1999       volume 10, no. 130


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