Bishop Augustine Cui Tai of Xuanhua is again sequestered by police

He had only been released in January. Over past 13 years Msgr. Cui Tai has spent long intervals in detention and is released only for short periods on Chinese holidays. His detention is contrary to the laws of the country. The bishop is “a sacrificial lamb”.

by Wang Zhicheng

06/23/2020, 13.29

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The underground bishop of  Xuanhua (Hebei), Msgr. Agostino Cui Tai, 70, has once again been taken away by police. Some faithful of his diocese say that on 19 June, the bishop was detained and transported to an unknown place.

Bishop Cui Tai was released last January on the occasion of the Chinese New Year and – perhaps because of the pandemic – was able to remain with his family until June. This period from January to June was the longest period of freedom for the prelate who has been detained on several occasions for long intervals since 2007. All of this occurs despite Chinese law stating otherwise, because he is being held without any charge or legal process.

“It is a shame that such a sweet person like Msgr. Augustine is treated in this way, even against Chinese law,” decries one faithful. Of course, this imprisonment “has become almost a routine, but it does not allow the bishop to celebrate and take care of his sheep. Our shepherd has become a sacrificial lamb.”

From 2007 onwards, the bishop has often been sequestered in secret detention centres, or in hotels, or taken away for forced “vacations” under the escort of government officials. Usually he is freed during the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn (moon) festival. Once they gave him permission to go home for a short visit to his older sister. For the rest of the time he is always under the guard and control of the government.

Msgr Cui Tai has been a priest since 1990 and in 2013 he was made coadjutor bishop of Xuanhua, whose ordinary bishop, Mgr. Tommaso Zhao Kexun is now 96 years old.

The diocese of Xuanhua was founded by the Holy See in 1946, but in 1980 the government established the official diocese of Zhangjiakou, joining it with that of Xuanhua and Xiwanzi. The diocese of Zhangjiakou is not recognized by the Holy See.

The Church of Hong Kong has often launched appeals for the release of Msgr. Cui Tai.

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