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Disabled Chinese Orphans Threatened by Government

Rights Foundation Warns: Orphanage Being Used to Punish Bishop

STAMFORD, Connecticut, JAN. 13, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A U.S.-based organization that advocates for Catholics in China is warning that an orphanage for disabled children might be taken over by the Chinese government as a punishment of the bishop who founded the care home.

The Cardinal Kung Foundation announced Tuesday that an orphanage for disabled youth founded in Hebei province by Bishop Jia Zhiguo faced the imminent threat of a government take-over. The prelate founded the home some 20 years ago, when a disabled baby was left on his doorstep and he took the child in. As word spread of Bishop Jia"s care for the infant, more and more children were left at his home. He started a group of 30 nuns to care for the children. The orphanage now has more than 100 children and youth, some only a few months old, others as old as 20.

Bishop Jia, however, has suffered constant persecution from the Chinese government because of his refusal to adhere to the Catholic Patriotic Association, the group which approves all religious practice in the country. Catholics who do not abide by the Patriotic Association have formed the "underground" or "clandestine" Church, faithful to the Bishop of Rome.

Bishop Jia, 75, has spent years in prison, having been arrested 13 times for his refusal to adhere to the Patriotic Association. His last arrest was in March 2009; he was released in July 2010. The prelate again recently showed his defiance of the association by failing to attend an illicit episcopal ordination last November, and the 8th Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives in December, a meeting held to elect leaders for both the Patriotic Association and the assembly of Chinese bishops.

According to a statement from the Cardinal Kung foundation, "Probably because of Bishop Jia"s repeated rejections of the Patriotic Association and the National Congress for Catholic Representatives, the Chinese authorities are now trying to punish him and break his staunch fidelity to the Holy Father by threatening the welfare of the 100 orphans under his care and protection."

The foundation is recommending contacting Chinese embassies to express support for the bishop and the orphanage.


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