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Second priest released from detainment, diagnosed with heart conditions

.- The diocesan chancellor of the underground Catholic community in Wenzhou, eastern China, was released Aug. 24, after an 11-month detainment, reported UCA News.

Fr. Paul Jiang Surang, 38, had been kept in a small solitary cell in the Putaopeng Detention Center in Wenzhou, 1,380 kilometers southeast of Beijing.

He and the diocese's vicar general, Fr. Peter Shao Zhumin, 46, were both arrested on Sept. 25, 2006, shortly after they returned from a pilgrimage to Europe. Their belongings were confiscated, including notes and photographs taken when Pope Benedict XVI received them at the Vatican.

In March, both priests were charged with "illegal exit." Fr. Jiang was sentenced to 11 months. Fr. Shao was sentenced to nine months, but was released on parole in May due to severe hearing and gallstone problems.

Upon his release, Fr. Jiang was diagnosed to have heart disease, high blood pressure and vascular sclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

During their imprisonment, the two priests were reportedly not allowed to see each other and visits with relatives were very limited by the prison.

UCA News reports that the current head of the detention center had led a crackdown on the Wenzhou underground Church in 1999.

Prior to his release, Fr. Jiang reportedly promised government officials not to organize any celebrations over his newly found freedom or the priests' meeting with the Pope.


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