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Human rights group demands Olympic change after infirm Chinese bishop arrested

.- A U.S.-based human rights group is calling on the Olympic Committee to cancel the Olympic Games in China after government officials arrested yet another Catholic bishop, while he was recovering in the hospital.

Joseph Kung, the president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said the games in China should be canceled “in order to preserve [the] good name and spirit” of the international sports event.

Bishop Jia Zhiguo, Roman Catholic bishop of the “underground” Diocese of Zheng Ding in Hebei Province, was arrested on June 25th, while he was still recovering from an operation.  Medical staff reported that the bishop, in fact, still had a catheter in place when he was taken.

On the morning of June 25, the government authority informed the nursing staff at the local hospital that a car was being sent to take the 72-year-old bishop to his home in Wu Qiu, where he cares for about 100 handicapped orphans.

When his faithful noticed that their bishop had not returned, they inquired about the delay at the government’s religious bureau. The religious bureau told them the bishop had been sent for "education" for several days.

To date, there has been no word on the bishop and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Cumulatively, Bishop Jia has been jailed for nearly 20 years of his 26 year episcopacy.  According to the Cardinal Kung Foundation, this is the ninth time he has been arrested since January 2004.

The Cardinal Kung Foundation has also appealed to governments and corporations to take into greater consideration such human rights violations when forming and implementing their political and business decisions regarding communist China

China became communist in 1949, and by 1953 many Chinese priests and lay people were arrested and dying in jail. Unable to stamp out the Catholic Church, the government created its own church three years later, called the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA).

The Chinese government officially permits only those Catholic churches affiliated with the CCPA. The CCPA does not recognize the administrative and judicial authority of the Pope and only takes orders from the State Council's Religious Affairs Bureau. Members of the CCPA must sever ties with the Vatican and submit to the government-appointed bishops.

Those who wish to remain faithful to the Roman Catholic Church must practice in secret.  Currently, all of the 45 bishops of the underground Roman Catholic Church are either in jail, under house arrest, under strict surveillance, or in hiding.

In his December 1996 message to China, Pope John Paul II described the underground Church as "a precious jewel of the Catholic Church."


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