VATICAN (CWN) -- Representatives of the underground Catholic Church loyal to the Holy See were prevented from meeting with an American delegation investigating religious freedom in that country, according to the Vatican news agency Fides.

      Fides cited reports from independent agents in Hong Kong, who in turn had heard from contacts on the mainland that Catholics in Hebei, Shanghai, and Jiangxi that Catholic leaders had been stopped by police as they attempted to reach the American visitors.

      The American delegates, who traveled to China with White House approval, included one Catholic leader (Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Newark), one Evangelical Protestant (Rev. Donald Argue), and one Jew (Rabbi Arthur Schneier). They met with Ye Xiawen, the Chinese government's chief official for religious affairs, and presented him with a list of Chinese religious leaders who were believed to be imprisoned by the regime. The Beijing government stoutly denied that anyone is in jail for religious reasons.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:To subscribe to Catholic World News Service, available daily by e-mail, click here .

March 2, 1998 volume 9, no. 43         DAILY CATHOLIC