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Rome (AsiaNews) – Fr Wang Zhong, from the diocese of Xiwanze (Hebei), was sentenced to three years in prison for organising the celebrations of the consecration of a church in Guyuan. AsiaNews received a copy of an unofficial transcript of the trial. It indicates that a valid building permit was issued by the Religious Affairs Bureau for the construction of church. But it also says that Father Wang was an underground priest, unaffiliated with the state-sanctioned China Catholic Patriotic Association (CCAP).
The diocese of Xiwanzi (Hebei) is part of the underground Church. It has about 15,000 members and is located some 260 km north of Beijing, not far from the border with Inner Mongolia.
In this area for months the police have waged a campaign against priests and bishops from the underground Church, on the instigation of the CCAP.
The diocese’s auxiliary bishop, Mgr Yao Liang, disappeared into police custody on 30 July 2006; another 20 faithful and 2 priests are also in prison.
Father Wang was arrested on July 24, 2007 and taken away along with two other priests who had found shelter at the residence of a Catholic family in Xilinguole (Inner Mongolia).
After his arrest he was kept in total isolation with no visitation rights.
His trial opened on 29 October 2007 in Kangbao, Zhangjiakou district (Hebei).
Catholic faithful who attended the proceedings in the courtroom said that Father Wang, 41, was “in good physical conditions despite his long beard. He seemed a bit weak though but faced the ordeal with courage and a smile on his face.”
Charges against him were finally made public at the trial.
He is accused of organising an unlawful meeting (celebrating the consecration of the Guyuan church which is devoted to the Holy heart), and using the official seal of the parish (which in China is legally equated with a valid signature) without the permission of state authorities.
The facts are that the church in Guyuan was built with the right permit and paid for by the faithful themselves who raised the money over a two-year period. Those who could not make a financial contribution offered their own labour.
Some 7,000 people, including underground 21 priests and a bishop took part in the 18 July 2006 ceremony of consecration.
Father Wang’s defence attorney at the trial noted that “the new church and its consecration where approved by Zhangjiakou authorities. The permit issued by them was presented as an exhibit at the trial. The local Religious Affairs Bureau and United Front Work Department even contributed about 1000 yuan (US$ 140) to the construction. All of this evidence is in the parish registry.” Hence in the lawyer’s opinion, there is sufficient evidence to show that the “meeting was not illegal.”
As for the seal used, he noted that it “as parish church property (its top read ‘Parish Church Affairs’), it was an internal Church matter and was not an official seal. At the centre it sports a sign of the cross rather the five-pointed star which symbolises the Chinese government.”
An eyewitness even testified that the “seal was made with the permission of the deputy director of the Civil Affairs Bureau, which comes under the Religious and National Affairs Bureau. Thus Father Wang could not be guilty.”
However, the prosecution called a policeman to the stand to say that consecration celebrations had caused local traffic problems.
But according to the unofficial transcript, “everyone knows that the church is located in an isolated area, far from the main road, and that it has a big parking area.”
In his final plea, Father Wang’s defence attorney said that the charges were unfair and baseless, founded on “false testimonies.”
Before sentencing the judge suspended the trial in order to confer with the authorities.
After two days of discussion involving the political commissar (an influential member of the Communist Party) and representatives of the United Front and the Religious Affairs Bureau, no decision was taken. The judge turned instead to higher authorities for advice.
The trial was resumed on November 14. More than 200 of Father Wang’s parishioners were present. But the session lasted only 10 minutes during which the judge sentenced the priest to three years in prison for organising an unlawful meeting.
The defence attorney protested at the decision and said he would appeal.
Parishioners tried to get close to the priest, but police agents removed him from the courtroom right away and took him away by car.
The unofficial transcript made by some of the faithful present at the trial ends on some thoughts. It says that “this unjust sentence shows that there is no justice in China. On the one hand, they say there is religious freedom; on the other, Church members are arrested or done away with.”
“This unlawful sentence is a slap in the face of [President Hu Jintao’s] much-vaunted ‘harmonious society.’ Father Wang is but a helpless lamb that can be easily slaughtered, whilst the real criminals get away with facing the law.”
In the end what happened to Father Wang seems to confirm the idea that the Religious Affairs Bureau is engaged in a full-blown “normalisation” campaign against underground Churches in order to force them to register with the CCAP as the only way to carry out their ministry.
But as Benedict XVI pointed out in his Letter to Chinese Catholics the CCAP is an entity “incompatible with Catholic doctrine.”
We need this guy. If you care about the welfare of the Commonwealth of Virginia (and happen to be in agreement with the work of Bob Marshall), please read this and ask people you know in Manassas to work on his campaign.
This is a forward I got by email (and probably in the mailbox back in Swoope, VA, also).
I desperately need your help and prayers to stay in office because not only are
abortionists mad at me, my own Republican leadership is annoyed because I put everyone on
record with my hardball parliamentary maneuvers.
You see, I managed to secure a first-time ever recorded vote in the House of Delegates
since the 1973 Roe vs. Wade case on the main principle of the right to life movement,
namely to protect all children in the womb from the very beginning of human life. (See HB
Here is how the Washington Post (2-6-07) put it:
â€œBut Marshall succeeded in getting to the House floor the bill to protect fertilized
eggs and fetuses, which abortion rights advocates say would have amounted to a state ban
on abortion. Last week, the Privileges and Elections Committee voted 12 to 7 to approve
the legislation, which says that "life begins at the moment of fertilization" so
the "Constitution of Virginia is vested in each . . . human being from the moment of
When the bill came up for debate Monday, Republican leaders tried to have it sent back to
committee. Besides avoiding a contentious floor debate, they hoped to shield some
delegates from having to take a recorded vote on the issue.
But Democrats, who see protecting abortion rights as a possible issue in this year's
legislative elections, joined a dozen conservative Republicans to defeat the motion to
return it to committee. Democrats then forced a recorded vote on the bill, which was
defeated 53 to 43.â€
I probably cannot count on much help from the Republican Party in Richmond.
That is why I need your financial help and prayers.
My web site allows you to make a contribution (http://www.delegatebob.com/index.cfm) and
also lets you know about the broad range of bills I have introduced and my laws which have
passed over the years (http://www.delegatebob.com/index.cfm).
This year, for example, I sponsored laws that passed and which set up a state commission
on Immigration, continues the Stem Cell Study Committee which I chair, lets localities
establish electric power transmission corridors so power companies will not have to take
private homes for big electric transmission lines, grants a tax break for handicapped or
senior citizens and other laws.
Please visit my web site and make an on-line contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250 or more
if you can afford it http://www.delegatebob.com/index.cfm. There are no donation limits,
and business or personal donations are allowed under Virginia law. Or, if you like, you
may send a check to me (Friends of Delegate Marshall) at PO Box 421, Manassas, VA 20108.
I appreciate your help and support.
Delegate Bob Marshall
PS Virginia Planned Parenthood takes my HB 2797 as a threat to abortion on demand (http://
www.delegatebob.com/index.cfm ). In politics, you know someone by the enemies they make.
Please pass this on to a friend. Thanks again.
Paid for and authorized by Bob Marshall
Que Ustedes reciban bendicciones en abundancia.
This is a link to a 6-minute video that a friend of mine from North Carolina put together. I am not in any of the pictures or video, because I was studying Spanish in Nicaragua when this was filmed in July of last year.
I hope you enjoy it. If you want to come down for a visit, we´ve got room (if nowhere else, there´s usually floor space).
I´m writing from hot, sunny Comayagua, with another petition. Our mission (the Missioners of Christ) runs some catechism and discipleship classes for children and young people, along the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (Fr. Groeschel´s order). We´ve seen a lot of young people grow tremendously in their relationship with God, and in the Faith, and this even amidst so much darkness—i.e. terrible influences from every side—and so much confusion—e.g. well-meaning Protestants, Mormons, and Jehovah´s Witnesses have met with enormous success here.
As I´ve mentioned in previous notes, there´s plenty of work of all sorts to be done in the Church in Honduras. But right now, we need special help. Some of the girls we teach and work with are living in situations of abuse. They need to get out of their houses, and we want to help send them to a local Catholic boarding school. We´ve discussed other ideas, and this really is their only decent option. But it is not going to be a possibility unless they have people helping them to pay their monthly tuition fees ($40-$120/month). And some of them are being offered free tuition from local evangelical church-schools, where they would certainly receive persecution for being Catholic, and might lose the Faith.
We are also helping to pay for the uniforms and school supplies of kids in our catechism and discipleship programs who attend public schools. Many families in our neighborhood cannot afford the $75 it costs at the beginning of each year for uniforms, books and school supplies. Thus, many children do not make it to middle school, and so the cycle of poverty continues.
I don´t want to beg, but I guess that´s what I´m doing. Please help these kids. A little goes a long way here, and gives kids a lot of opportunities that they wouldn´t have otherwise. In helping our brothers and sisters here, it´s often the difference between a broken life and a good, godly life.
Regardless of whether you can help financially, please pray for the children we work with. Perhaps you can offer your Friday fast this week for the Body of Christ in Honduras.
If you´re interested in receiving pictures and biographies of some of the young ladies we especially need to help, or for more information of any sort about the work I´m doing with the Missioners of Christ and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jenny Perone (our sponsorship program coordinator) at email@example.com.
Grace and peace be with you. And Happy Feast Day of the Conversion of Saint Paul! May God make us to see as clearly and to work as passionately as did St. Paul.
I went to bed early Friday night, slept all day yesterday, and went to bed early last night. 24 hours of sleep. Praise God. I was the sickest I´ve been since the first few days I was here back in June. Besides the symptoms I have to deal with related to my near-syncope condition (exhaustion, dizziness, and a weak stomach due to all the coffee I have to drink to get through a day), I´ve been doing relatively well down here. Thanks be to God.
So much good stuff has been happening the past several weeks:
1. EJE (Equipo Juvenil de Evangelización--Youth Evangelization Team) and their monthly class with Fr. Harold, which draws about 20-25 college-age kids each month, for three hours of intensive Bible study, then an hour of apologetics study or personal Bible study (Lectio Divina), then dinner, followed by a couple hours of prayer and worship. It´s a beautiful time, all held in the Friars´ convento (in Spanish, at least here, friars live in convents, and nuns live in monasteries) . These young people are going to do so much for the Body of Christ in the coming decades.
2. Retiro de Liderazco (Leadership Retreat)--about 75 people, mostly college-age, came to Casa Guadalupe (the humongous U.S.-style ministry center of the Friars) for a weekend to learn about leading various types of ministries in their parishes. A lot of the folks from EJE helped us out for this. This was in mid-November, before the Chapel area of Casa G. was ready.
3. Thanksgiving dinner (Fiesta del Día de Acción de Gracias)--A couple dozen families from the barrio (neighborhood) came to Casa Guadalupe for a big Thanksgiving feast. I imagine very few of them had never seen cranberry sauce before. It´s something I feel a bit strange about, making such huge volumes of food, as it´s more food than a lot of these people have ever seen in their lives, and richer. But Carol (who heads up the Missioners of Christ community down here) feels we should give our best to the poor, physically as well as spiritually.
4. Retreat in El Florida (a mountain area on the border of El Salvador, about 3 hours by car)--300 young people came, and a great many of them walked an hour or two each morning to get there, and each night to go home. Padre Maximiliano (Fr. Max) has not been ordained for a year, and has already 56 villages for his parish. I don´t think he sleeps very much. He was overjoyed during the retreat, and afterwards, at teh fruits borne out in the lives of the young people.
I wasn´t able to attend (somebody had to stay home, and it certainly would have exhausted me thoroughly because of all the walking required), but I was told that the Holy Spirit worked powerfully there. Lives changed, the faith of many strengthened, and young people raised up as spiritual leaders in their communities--and this is happening where leaders are needed, thanks be to God. Fr. Max can only get around to each village about 5 times a year, sometimes only twice a year--and that´s a better job than many Honduran priests in similar situations. The retreat was led by the Missioners, EJE folks, and a few contacts on Fr. Max´s side. Prayer, teaching, praise and worship, Mass, adoration, and a Eucharistic procession
5. Friars´ monthly food handout--There are over 100 families in the neighborhood that receive help from the Friars each month. A sack filled with rice, beans, sugar, salt, and oil. They´ve also all recently received a Bible. Br. Damiano, a very cool fellow, who has become a very Franciscan friar, is in charge of this ministry of the Friars. He was in his late-20´s, living the American dream (money, women, a beautiful Harley that he worshipped), when he visited Assisi and was profoundly converted. Then he found the Friars in New York, and he´s been down here the past three years, being an apostle to the poor. He is out most days visiting different families, talking and praying with them, and encouraging them in the Faith. And needy people come to the Friars´ convent every day, usually asking for Br. Damiano.
As it happened, I was terribly dizzy the morning of December´s food handout, so I couldn´t help out. But what happens is that everybody gathers in the Friars´ chapel (it´s very crowded--I´m glad they don´t have to worry about fire code restrictions down here yet), there is praise music for a bit, the Rosary, and a talk by one of the Friars. The children leave during the talk to go do some craft or coloring project in a classroom-ish area in the convent. Then families come in one by one to receive their sacks of food. A couple Missioners, a Friar, and a few kids from the catechism classes fill up the sacks, and the mothers go their happy way back home with a huge sack on the their heads (only a couple fathers come, disabled men--on an indirectly related note, it´s surprising to find a man with his wife and his own children here--the situation is incomparably worse even than in the States).
6. Mountain mission to El Florida--The retreat I mentioned above was the culmination of 3 1/2 weeks of missioning throughout a number of villages in the El Florida area. The team consisted of Andrew (the only gringo who went), Meynor, Daniel (a 17-year-old guy, very mature, probably going to be a priest), Ana and Juan Carlos (two more EJE folks). I can´t remember if anyone else was there the whole time, but a few other people were there for the retreat and for several more days of missioning afterwards--Alyson, Isis, Lorena, and Lenin (the oldest guy on the team--he turned 25 the day he got back from the mission--he intends to be a missionary).
Everybody who went on the mission was greatly strengthened in the Faith, to see the faith of the people, many of whom did not know how to read, and therefore did not have the blessing of being able to read the Bible, but who received the Word of God enthusiastically when they gathered together on Sundays for the Proclamation of the Word, and for the preaching and sharing by the local delegate of Fr. Max. The people are often overjoyed when Fr. Max comes to celebrate the Eucharist with them, to teach the Word of God and encourage them in the Faith. But so much work must be done for these people to be able to live the Faith more fully. More teaching and discipleship is needed, and more priests.
Everywhere the team went, they set up youth groups, at the request of Fr. Max. Fr. Max has a burning desire to see his generation changed (he is 28), and is working zealously to that end. If we don´t, Evangelical groups, as well as the Mormons and Jehovah´s Witnesses, are going to bring these people to conversion, but not with the fulness of the Gospel message.
The team got back safe and healthy and in joyous spirits, having been sick very little, praise be to God, despite the cold and exhaustion and all manner of unsafe-looking food and drink. And they had very much to share about the work they had seen God do.
7. I really will finish this at some point. No, really.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.