WASHINGTON (March 11, 2004) -— The chairman of the bishops' International Policy today requested that the Chinese government disclose the reason for the arrest of a Catholic bishop in China last week, reminding the Chinese ambassador of his government's "stated commitment to respect religious freedom and other fundamental human rights."
In a letter to Ambassador Yiechi Yang, Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee, said he had "no reason to believe" that the arrested bishop had "acted in any way against the interests and well-being of the Chinese people."
It has been reported that Bishop Wei Jingyi of Quiqihar, China, was arrested on March 5. The reasons have not been disclosed.
The full text of Bishop Ricard's letter to the ambassador follows:
"It has come to my attention that yet another bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in China, Bishop Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar, was arrested by the authorities on Friday, March 5 for reasons that have not been disclosed.
"While, like millions of other loyal citizens, he is part of the unregistered Catholic Church in China, we have no reason to believe that he has acted in any way against the interests and well-being of the Chinese people.
"As the director of the Holy See's press office said today, 'Whatever accusations there might be against the arrested bishop, they should be made public, as happens in every State of law,' adding that the 'Holy See, for its part, has no reason for doubting the prelate's innocence.'
"I would be grateful, Mr. Ambassador, to learn why Bishop Wei Jingyi has been arrested. It is my fervent hope that we will soon hear that he has been released, in keeping with your government's stated commitment to respect religious freedom and other fundamental human rights."