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March 11, 2004
His Excellency Jiechi Yang
Ambassador of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
It has come to my attention that yet another bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in China, Bishop Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar, was arrested by the authorities on Friday, March 5 for reasons that have not been disclosed.
While, like millions of other loyal citizens, he is part of the unregistered Catholic Church in China, we have no reason to believe that he has acted in any way against the interests and well-being of the Chinese people.
As the director of the Holy See's press office said today, "Whatever accusations there might be against the arrested bishop, they should be made public, as happens in every State of law," adding that the"Holy See, for its part, has no reason for doubting the prelate's innocence."
I would be grateful, Mr. Ambassador, to learn why Bishop Wei Jingyi has been arrested. It is my fervent hope that we will soon hear that he has been released, in keeping with your government's stated commitment to respect religious freedom and other fundamental human rights.
I thank you for your attention to this matter, and remain
Most Reverend John H. Ricard, SSJ
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
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