China censors, arrests Catholics in wake of Pope's death

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Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Many Catholic leaders have been arrested without having charges brought against them.

Chinese Catholics' response to the recent death of pontiff John Paul II have motivated more actions against free speech and arrests in China by the government, AsiaNews reports.

At the same time as the Chinese government is expressing condolences for the death of John Paul II, it has begun the arrest of dozens of Catholics, particularly among the underground church. The Vatican has already protested the arrest of Catholic leaders. Some of the most recent arrests include auxiliary bishop Yao Liang on 31 March and Father Wang Jinling on 1 April, both from Hebei province dioceses.

Many other Catholic leaders have been arrested without having charges brought against them.

Various websites have apparently been censored by the government. Likewise, many online forums and chat groups discussing the figure and life of John Paul II have appeared, yet, on 2 April, almost all news about the pope disappeared, stated AsiaNews.

One Chinese priest is reported as declaring, "the pope knew communism, and has always helped and encouraged us to live the faith and to be courageous in the face of persecution," AsiaNews quoted.

Alongside the Catholic Patriotic Organization, the government-approved church's official name, underground churches throughout China have been holding religious services.

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