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Chinese authorities release bishop and priests over Lunar New Year

HONG KONG (UCAN): Bishop Augustine Cui Tai, coadjutor of the Diocese of Xuanhua, Hebei, along with Father Su Guipeng and Father Zhao He, all members of the unofficial Church, were able to go home for the Lunar New Year.
 
They had been under detention since last year.
 
Bishop Cui had not been seen since mid-April last year and his whereabouts were unknown.
 
A source named John, said that the 68-year-old bishop was allowed to go home on January 24 to visit his elderly sister for the Lunar New Year but was banned from management of religious activities.
 
Bishop Cui, has been in poor health in recent years and is weak due to severe gastritis, and weighs only 52 kilogrammes.
 
Father Zhao, who serves at Dongcheng Catholic Church, was also allowed to go home on January 24. 
 
He was detained by United Front Work Department personnel of Yangyuan County last October and confined at a hotel to learn the government’s new religious policy. 
 
Father Su, who works at the parish of Shadifang, was placed under home arrest last October for indoctrination on government policies.
 
John said Father Su went home on December 21 but was banned from management of parish affairs.
 
Another source, Peter, told said that the government had allowed the bishop and priests to stay home for the Lunar New Year but wer prohibited from organising or participating in any religious activities and had to be contactable by authorities at all times.
 
“As for what happens after Lunar New Year, it is very likely that they will be house arrested again,” Peter said.
 
An anonymous Catholic source said that Bishop Cui had been repeatedly arrested since 2007 and only allowed to go home to visit his sister for a few days on festivals such as Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
 
“The authorities allowed the bishop to return home last Lunar New Year but took him away again last April,” he said.
 
Peter said that Bishop Cui and the two priests had refused to accept the authority of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
 
“Unless the Church gives clear instructions that it is okay to join or accept the leadership of the Patriotic Association, we can’t do anything contradictory to our faith and our own conscience. Otherwise, how can we pass the true faith to others?” Peter said.

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