Tue, Nov 01, 2005 - Page 5 News List

China detains two priests after `Expresso' interview

AP , ROME

Two priests from China's underground Catholic Church have been detained, a Vatican-affiliated missionary news agency said. The two had reportedly just given a rare interview to a foreign journalist.

The AsiaNews missionary agency reported on Friday that the Reverends Shao Zhumin and Paul Jiang Sunian, from the underground church in Wenzhou, were detained Thursday after celebrating Mass. The report said the detentions were unusual because the situation of underground priests in Wenzhou had been "calm" for some time.

On Friday, however, the Italian newsweekly Espresso published a two-page article in which it said it had interviewed the two priests, as well as a third, and that they had "risked arrest" by speaking to a foreign journalist.

The article said that two days after the interview was conducted, police followed the reporter and questioned her interpreter.

In the interview, the priests spoke of previous detentions, with Shao saying he had been asked after his Sept. 7, 1999, detention to make a declaration "to evaluate whether I had become patriotic."

Catholics who meet outside the sanctioned churches are frequently harassed by authorities.

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