China: police arrest priests, demolish church

 Police in northeast China are reported to have raided a religious retreat and arrested about a dozen Catholic priests, while a church in the vicinity was demolished. The twelve priests and seminarians were attending a retreat sponsored by the underground Catholic Church loyal to the Vatican. Seven of the priests were said to be held in a detention house in Gaocheng County. The fate of the remaining five is uncertain. "They are charged with illegal assembly. I don't know if they will be released soon," said a staff member at the detention centre. According to the Cardinal Kung Foundation, a US-based religious rights group, the retreat was being held in Gaocheng County, in Hebei Province's Shijiazhuang City. Police swooped and took everyone into custody, the Foundation said in a statement. Prior to the arrests, a Catholic church in Liugou Village, also in Hebei Province, was torn down, the foundation said. An official from the Shahe City religious affairs office said the church was razed in June, two weeks after being built, allegedly because it did not have proper building licenses. Source: CKF/CISA

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