CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Justice and Peace Commission calls for release of sick bishop

HONG KONG (UCAN): The Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) of Hong Kong issued a statement on May 29 calling on the Chinese government to release Coadjutor Bishop Augustine Cui Tai of Xuanhua, of the unofficial Church in Hebei, who was detained by authorities in mid-April and has not been seen since.
The statement said that the bishop has been in poor health in recent years, suffering from severe gastritis, neurasthenia and dizziness, and should be allowed to receive medical care.
The commission also called for the unconditional release of other clergy including Bishop James Su Zhimin and Father Liu Honggeng of Baoding.
It expressed concerns about Bishop Cui’s situation and strongly condemned the Chinese government for serious violations of the constitution and international human rights conventions in failing to protect basic rights and religious freedom.
The statement said Bishop Cui upholds the freedom of belief and conscience, rejects the government’s religious policy that violates the principle of faith and refuses to accept the leadership of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
Since 1993, the bishop has been repeatedly subject to detention and house arrest or sent to labour camps by authorities for illegally preaching or holding illegal religious assemblies. 
An anonymous source from the parish served by Bishop Cui, said that since 2007, the bishop had only been allowed to go home for a few days to visit his elderly sister during ocassions such as the Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
“But the key point is that Bishop Cui is not a leader of the mainland Church. He is only a pastor who lives a simple and strict life full of virtue. He has done nothing illegal. I do not understand why the government has illegally detained him for more than a decade. That is going too far,” the source said. 
Bishop Cui was born in 1950 in Zhangjiakou, Hebei, and studied at Baoding seminary. He was ordained by Bishop Shi Enxiang of Yixian, in 1990. In 2013, he was appointed as a coadjutor bishop of Xuanhua by the Holy See, but the mainland government has not recognised his episcopacy.

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