August 24, 2004
His Excellency Yang Jiechi
Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Dear Mr. Ambassador:
We have seen the reports of the arrest of eight Catholic priests in Hebei Province, apparently for no other reason than that they are ordained priests of the unregistered Catholic Church in China. We understand from press reports that three of the arrested priests are Rev. Huo Junlong, Rev. Zhenquian, and a Father Huang.
We urge the prompt release of these priests. Improved and productive relations between the United States and China depend upon a commitment to human rights including freedom of religion. Together with the Holy See, we believe such arrests are inadmissible in a State of law that declares that it guarantees freedom of religion and respects and safeguards human rights.
I would be grateful, Mr. Ambassador, if you would inform your Government of this expression of concern of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. We would also be grateful for a response to our letter of April 7, 2004 concerning the arrest of Bishop Julius Jia ZhiGuo of Zhengding (Hebei).
Thanking you for your attention to this matter, I remain
Most Reverend John H. Ricard, SSJ
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman, Committee on International Policy