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Two priests arrested in China, group says Olympic Committee should consider canceling 2008 games in China

.- With the arrest of two more priests in China this month, the Cardinal Kung Foundation is calling on the Olympic Committee to consider canceling the next summer Olympic Games, which are scheduled to take place in China, in 2008.

Chinese security officials arrested Fr. Lu Genjun and Fr. Guo Yanli of the diocese of Baoding in Hebei Feb.17, while the two priests waited for a friend at the Baoding train station, reported the Cardinal Kung Foundation.

Fr. Guo, 39, was sent to Xushui County detention center; Fr. Lu, 44, was sent to an undisclosed location. The Kung Foundation said it does not know why the two priests were arrested. 

Fr. Lu, ordained in 1990, was previously arrested on Palm Sunday 1998. He was arrested  before Easter 2001 and detained for three years in the Gao Yang County labor camp in Hebei. Shortly after his release, he was arrested again on May 14, 2004 for an unknown period.

Fr. Guo has no previous arrest record.  He was ordained in 1998.

Bishop Jia Zhiguo, who was arrested Nov. 8, is still detained.  The Kung Foundation has no information on his whereabouts. The 70-year-old was previously in jail for approximately 20 years and has been under strict surveillance for many years.  He cares for 100 handicapped orphans in his house. The Kung Foundation speculates that this is the eighth time the bishop has been arrested since January 2004.

In response to this series of continuous arrests, the Cardinal Kung Foundation wrote a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, appealing that he “bring modern China into an era of true religious freedom.” The letter was signed by the foundation’s president, Joseph Kung.

"A country without religious freedom is never peaceful and constructive," reads the letter, which also challenged the president to realize "the importance of changing the world's perception of China's human rights policy for the better." 

The foundation asked that all current religious prisoners be released and that all religious prisoners, “both living and dead, be officially and posthumously exonerated of so called crimes.”

Kung said releasing the prisoners would “also prove that China is honoring the spirit of the Olympic Games that [it] will have the honor of hosting in 2008."

Kung said Hu has never replied to his letter.

Kung recommended that the Olympic Committee should “take note of these arrests and decide whether or not China's continuous persecutions of innocent religious believers is in conformity with the spirit of the Olympic Games.”

He said the Olympic Committee should “consider canceling the games in China in 2008 in order to preserve its good name and spirit” of the Olympics.


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