Two underground priests in China receive prison sentence


Two underground Church leaders from Wenzhou, eastern China, received prison sentences in March, six months after their arrest upon returning from a pilgrimage in Europe.


Frs. Peter Shao Zhumin and Paul Jiang Surang (alias Jiang Sunian), vicar general and chancellor of the diocese respectively, were arrested on Sept. 25, 2006, in Shenzhen, southern China. They were subsequently transferred to Putaopeng Detention Center in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, 1,380 kilometers southeast of Beijing.


According to a report by UCA News, the two priests were charged with "illegal exit," and then sentenced in March. Word of the priests’ imprisonment is only now coming out because of the concealment by the government.


The sources told UCA News that Fr. Shao has been sentenced to nine months, and Fr. Jiang to 11 months, as the latter is a "repeat offender." Fr. Jiang was imprisoned, from 2000 to 2004, for illegally publishing hymnals.


Since the two priests have already been detained for about six months as of March 2007, a source told UCA News that Fr. Shao will be released in late June, and Fr. Jiang in late August.


The underground Catholic community in Wenzhou has known about the sentencing, but the Catholics have not been allowed to visit their two Church leaders, the source said.

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