Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A. - The Cardinal Kung Foundation has learned that the Chinese government has apparently adopted a terrorist policy to prevent religious celebrations on any major feast day which underground Catholics always observe. This terrorist policy includes, but is not limited to, savage beatings, heavy fines, detentions, suspension from schools for children, confiscation of farmland, and suspension of water and power supply to homes. Any five families found praying together in the underground church are now liable to be charged with illegal gathering. Any three families gathering together are liable to be fined or have their water and power supply cut off. Examples of the acts of terror are as follow:
On January 28, UCA News reported Chinese government's violence and harassment including brutal beatings, detentions, heavy fines against underground Catholic peasants in Xu Shui County of Baoding Diocese in Hubei around Christmas 1998.
On January 5, 1999, the FIDES news agency released news on underground Roman Catholic priests' subjection to sexual blackmail.
On October 13, 1998, the Cardinal Kung Foundation reported how the Chinese government stopped underground Roman Catholic religious celebrations on August 15, 1998, the Feast of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by levying heavy fines, and by arresting priests, nuns, and laymen. This feast is one of the most important days on the Roman Catholic Church calendar.
The following event, although belatedly reported, fits an apparent pattern of Chinese government-sponsored terrorism against underground religious activities.
The Cardinal Kung Foundation has now learned that on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 1998 in XuShui County, Hebei, while Father SHI Wende, an underground elderly priest, and Father SHI Qiuliang, a younger priest were concelebrating a Holy Mass, security police burst in suddenly and stopped the Mass. They ordered the priests not to administer any sacraments and charged the Catholics present with illegal gathering. Those who tried to stop the security police from interfering with the Mass were all arrested and savagely beaten. They were charged with obstructing police actions and detained for 15 days. All suffered serious injuries inflicted during detention. Other Catholics were ordered to attend "brainwashing" sessions twice a day during the period of July 11 to July 31, which were conducted by the local communist party secretary Yang Fusheng.
On June 5, 1998, the government detained the younger priest, Father SHI Qiuliang until August 11.
On June 24, 1998, while President Clinton was visiting China, the Chinese government arrested and tortured the elderly priest, Father SHI Wende. On July 11, they released the priest, who by that time was too weak even to feed himself.
On July 7, 1998, one underground Catholic was gagged and kidnapped by the Security Police at 12:30 am from his own backyard and sent to the Security Bureau. He was brutally beaten. Four other female Catholics were also detained until 9:30 PM. One of the ladies suffered a heart attack during the detention.
Joseph Kung, the president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, commented: "China insists that it has religious freedom. Yet, the fact that underground Catholics are treated as criminals by Chinese government officials for practicing their faith suggests strongly otherwise. If the Chinese government truly advocates religious freedom, then it should demonstrate this intent by investigating the aforementioned brutal incidents and punish those responsible by law. If the Chinese government does not punish its officials for such horror behavior, one must reasonably conclude that there is state-sponsored terrorism against religious activities in China and that the Chinese government is duplicitous by merely paying lip service to religious freedom and human rights. However, history shows that persecution has never stopped religious worship. On the contrary, the faithful is always 'judged worthy of ill-treatment for the sake of Christ' (Acts 5:41). Truly, 'Blest are those persecuted for holiness' sake, the reign of God is theirs.' (Mt 5:10)".