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(AsiaNews) – Monsignor Julius Jia Zhiguo, age 70, underground Bishop of Zhengding ( Hebei , northern China ), was arrested outside his home yesterday at 3:30 p.m. (local time). News of his arrest came from the Kung Foundation. Bishop Jia was taken away by two men to an unknown destination. Government officials had warned the churchman in advance of the arrest and had ordered him to tell people that he was being taken away for medical tests. Msgr Jia is currently not ill, nor is he in need of any medical treatment.

Msgr Jia has been a bishop since 1980 and has already spent 20 years in prison. His is one of the most vivacious dioceses in Hebei , the area with the highest concentration of Catholics, some 1.5 million. He lives almost constantly under house arrest. Not being recognized by the government, he is technically not allowed to exercise his ministry. For this reason, prior to important religious celebrations (Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, the Feast of the Assumption), he is taken into custody and forced to undergo indoctrination sessions, to prevent celebrations and gatherings by underground Christians.