April 7, 2004
His Excellency Jiechi Yang
Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
We were pleased to note that Bishop Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar, about whose arrest by the authorities on March 5th I had written to you on March 10th, was released on March 14th. It appears that the charges against him proved to be baseless, as we had assumed.
Now we learn that another Catholic prelate, Bishop Julius Jia ZhiGuo of Zhengding (Hebei), was arrested at his home by government security police Monday afternoon, April 5th and taken to an unknown location.
We know that Bishop Jia has been detained in the past for exceedingly long periods of time for the sole crime of his functioning as an ordained religious leader in the unregistered Catholic Church in China. There is apparently no other reason for his being detained at this time.
In the words of the Press Office of the Holy See on the matter of Bishop Jias arrest, This is inadmissible in a State of law that declares that it guarantees freedom of religion and respects and safeguards human rights. I hope we can soon learn, as in the case of Bishop Wei, that Bishop Jias arrest was without merit and that he will be released.
I would be grateful, Mr. Ambassador, if you would forward to your Government this expression of concern by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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