Church in Hebei Sees Little Relief at Easter
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BAODING, China, APRIL 24, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Church in Hebei, the province with the highest number of Catholics in China, lived the recent Easter celebrations under the onus of persecution.
According to AsiaNews, an agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, the Communist Party and the government-backed "Patriotic Association" continued their campaign to destroy the underground Catholic community in the area.
According to AsiaNews sources, a high number of Catholics in the Diocese of Baoding had to forgo Easter celebrations for want of priests.
"Many had to read the Gospel or the Missal at home, away from the prying eyes of the dreaded police," AsiaNews reported.
Bishop Giacomo Su Zhimin, 72, was arrested in 1996; he has not been heard from since. Auxiliary Bishop Francis An Shuxim, 54, suffered the same fate the following year. Several priests of the same diocese are in prison.
To attend Mass, some of the faithful had to travel up to 300 kilometers, to celebrate Easter in an underground church in another diocese, AsiaNews said.
The agency added that police action, including arrests, surveillance and even violence, is focused on priests and seminarians, especially in the dioceses of Baoding and Zhengding.