Vatican City, Italy.
The Pope said today that he carries Chinese Christians “in his heart”, a day after the Catholic Asian News Agency revealed that the authorities of that country had arrested the Bishop of Xianxiang County (China), Zhang Weizhou, along with seven priests, seven priests and clergy. Ten seminarians.
“I invite you to accompany the prayers of the Christian faithful in China, our dear brothers and sisters in the depths of my heart,” he said at the end of the Ara Queli prayer, stating that the feast will be celebrated. Tomorrow in that country is the Virgin Mary.
He added to several hundreds of believers: “The Holy Spirit guides you, the hero of the Church’s mission in the world, and helps you to be bearers of good news, witnesses of love and building in the homeland, justice and peace.” They gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican.
Monsignor Zhang Weizhou, 63, was arrested on Friday, one day after teachers and students, all of them in the factory owned by a Hebei Catholic who used it as a religious school.
Last Thursday, “At least 100 policemen from Hebei Province – from Cangzhou, Heijian and Shaheqiao – surrounded the building that was used as a religious school for the parish in Shaqiao (Hebei)” and entered a number of agents and arrested the priests, four of them professors. Plus the ten seminarians who were studying, according to the Asianews.
The Chinese government does not recognize the Apostolic Province of Xinxiang, which has about 100,000 believers, so all activities of priests, seminarians and believers are considered “illegal.” Asinews confirms, according to observers, that since the signing of the provisional agreement between China and the Holy See, persecution against Catholics has increased, so that the agreement was “betrayed” for many believers.