China Should Respect Religious Freedom!


China Should Respect Religious Freedom!
Stop Inhuman Treatments against Clergies!
Release all Detained Church People!
Stop Illicit Ordinations of bishops!
29 June 2011
Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese
Today (29 June) is Saints Peter and Paul Feast Day. We, a group of Catholic clergy and lay Catholics in Hong Kong, are forced to take to the street because our brothers and sisters in Mainland China are being persecuted by the Chinese government. Their human rights, particularly religious freedom, have been seriously violated to an intolerable situation.
Another sad and regrettable illicit ordination happened in Leshan Diocese, Sichuan province, today. The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Chinese government step into the area and religious freedom of the Church. Without papal mandate, they illicitly ordained Fr. Lei Shiyin to be a bishop. However, the proposed legitimate ordination in Handan Diocese, Hebei province, was unreasonably clamped down today. Father Sun Jigen, who has papal approval to be ordained as the coadjutor bishop of the diocese, was taken away on 26 June and was not allowed to return to his diocese. His personal freedom has been seriously violated.
In the letter issued by Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of the Church in China, it clearly stated the Church's doctrine that the Church “is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.” On 11 June, 2011, the Pontifical Commission for Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law also issued an explanation about the relevant canons of the Canon Law on appointment and ordinations of bishops without papal mandate. The Chinese government’s obstinate move to continue the illicit ordinations is a serious disrespect of the Church and creates division and pain within the Church which we strongly protest.
Over the past few days, the Chinese authorities have been persecuting the priests in Zhangjiakou in Hebei province by forcing them to obtain the so-called “priest permit” and accept the official principle of “independent, autonomous and self-organized church.” They were beaten up, inhumanely treated and detained. During his detention from January to March this year, Father Zhang Guangjun of Xuanhua Diocese in Hebei was not allowed to sleep for five days and was beaten up with hard objects. His neck had even been locked up with a folding table. He suffered from the sequel of cerebral concussion and sometimes suffered from headache and vomiting. He still needs long-term medical treatment. On 9 April this year, Father Chen Hailong, also from Xuanhua Diocese, was reportedly hooded and taken away by plain-clothes public security officers in Yanqing County in Beijing. His whereabouts are still unknown. Father Chen’s family was very worried whether he would be subjected to beatings and torture. The government used this kind of gangster style to abduct Father Chen and refused to disclose Father Chen’s whereabouts to his family. Relevant officials only tried to evade their responsibilities. Could this kind of incidents be accepted by a civilized, rule and law, and harmonious society?
We are very much concerned about the personal safety of all the disappeared and detained clergies. They are merely loyal to their faith and exercise their freedom of religion as enshrined in the Chinese Constitution, but they are detained and forced to disappear. July 1 is the 79th birthday of Bishop Su Zhimin of Baoding Diocese in Hebei (who was born in 1932). Bishop Su has disappeared for 14 years after he was taken away in 1997. One of third of his life has been spent in detention. He was only loyal to his faith but he had been forced to disappear ever since. The Chinese authorities’ cruel and inhumane treatment against Bishop Su is outrageous.
Therefore, we demand that the Chinese government should:
  1. Openly disclose the whereabouts of disappeared clergies and ensure their personal safety, including Bishop Su Zhimin and Father Lu Genjun of Baoding Diocese in Hebei, Bishop Shi Enxiang of Yixian Diocese, etc;
  2. Release all detained Church people, including Father Ma Wuyong and Father Liu Honggeng of Baoding Diocese in Hebei, Father Li Huisheng in Xiwanzi Diocese in Hebei, Father Chen Hailong of Xuanhua Diocese in Hebei, etc;
  3. Seriously investigate ill-treatment and torture against Church people, immediately stop such inhumane behaviours, and compensate and apologize to the injured Church people;
  4. Respect citizens’ freedom of religion and clergies’ conscience and stop all the illicit ordinations of bishops.