Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A. - Once again China conducted another systematic arrest of the Roman Catholic Church clergy and seminarians purely because this religious gathering was not sponsored by the government-sanctioned Patriotic Association. A dozen underground Roman Catholic priests and seminarians were attending a religious retreat on October 20, 2003 at Gaocheng County 蒿城縣 in the district of Shigiazhuang 石家莊, Hebei 河北. The government of China raided this peaceful retreat and arrested every one of them present. They are now kept in the detention house of Gaocheng County 蒿城縣. Among the arrested are Father LI Wenfeng 李文峰, age 31, Father LIU Heng 劉恒, age 29, Father DOU Shengxia 竇勝霞 age 37, Seminarian Chen Rongfu 陳禜福, age 21, Seminarian HAN Jianlu 韓建路age 24, and Seminarian Zhang Chongyou 張寵佑 age 23. Names of other arrested are unknown.
Prior to this arrest, a Roman Catholic church in Hebei 河北was demolished by the Chinese Government on June 21, 2003. This church was completed only two weeks beforehand and was located in Liu Gou Village 柳溝村, Jicun Township 綦村鎮, Shahe City 沙河市in Hebei 河北, There were approximately 150 parishioners belonging to this new church. Most of them were new converts to Catholicism.
Joseph Kung, the president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said: "During the entire 25 years of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, the Pope has repeatedly expressed his deep respect and love for the Chinese people. It does not appear that the Chinese Government respects the Pope with these consistent and harsh treatments of the Roman Catholic Church in China. All leaders of the free countries should speak out against these atrocious arrests of these innocent religious believers."