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Chinese priest sentenced to three years for inaugurating a state-sanctioned church

ICC Note: Church leader arrested even though he was consecrating a church that had been built with the approval of the government. His crime? Not being part of the government-approved church.

11/22/07 China (AsiaNews) – Fr Wang Zhong, from the diocese of Xiwanze (Hebei ), was sentenced to three years in prison for organising the celebrations of the consecration of a church in Guyuan. AsiaNews received a copy of an unofficial transcript of the trial. It indicates that a valid building permit was issued by the Religious Affairs Bureau for the construction of church. But it also says that Father Wang was an underground priest, unaffiliated with the state-sanctioned China Catholic Patriotic Association (CCAP).

The diocese of Xiwanzi (Hebei ) is part of the underground Church. It has about 15,000 members and is located some 260 km north of Beijing , not far from the border with Inner Mongolia .

In this area for months the police have waged a campaign against priests and bishops from the underground Church, on the instigation of the CCAP.

The diocese’s auxiliary bishop, Mgr Yao Liang, disappeared into police custody on 30 July 2006; another 20 faithful and 2 priests are also in prison.

Father Wang was arrested on July 24, 2007 and taken away along with two other priests who had found shelter at the residence of a Catholic family in Xilinguole (Inner Mongolia ).

After his arrest he was kept in total isolation with no visitation rights.

His trial opened on 29 October 2007 in Kangbao, Zhangjiakou district (Hebei ).

Catholic faithful who attended the proceedings in the courtroom said that Father Wang, 41, was “in good physical conditions despite his long beard. He seemed a bit weak though but faced the ordeal with courage and a smile on his face.” … [Go To Full Story]