Father Liu Maochun from the Diocese of Mindong, who refuses to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, was arrested and deprived of sleep to break his will.
by An Xin
On September 1, Father Liu Maochun from the Diocese of Mindong in the southeastern province of Fujian was visiting patients in a hospital when police took him away. Police officers interrogated him in a detention house in the county-level city of Fu’an. A source in the diocese told Bitter Winter that Fr. Liu Maochun was ruthlessly tortured. Officers were banging a gong beside his ear and shone a bright light into his eyes for several consecutive days—a torture method known as “exhausting an eagle” when people are deprived of sleep for a long time.
“The government claimed that Fr. Liu Maochun has disobeyed its rule and was ‘ideologically radical,’” the source explained.
Tensions between the authorities and diocesan priests have been escalating since the signing of the Vatican-China Deal of 2018. The provisional agreement has not alleviated the situation of the clergy in what used to be known as China’s Underground Catholic Church, as the CCP enforces its requirement to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), ignoring the Vatican Guidelines of 2019 that ask to respect those who refuse to do so for reasons of conscience. Priests rejecting the CCP’s control suffer severe persecution, including arrests and other forms of harassment and intimidation.
Fr. Liu Maochun, 46, lives in the former bishop’s residence in Fu’an’s Luojiang sub-district, sharing it with the diocese’s auxiliary bishop Guo Xijin. Fr. Liu has been repeatedly suppressed for refusing to join the CPCA, authorities even implicating his relatives. His nephew’s travel agency was closed down last year, and his elderly parents were frequently harassed to pressure their son to join the CPCA.
“Fr. Liu Maochun is Bishop Guo’s assistant. The regime arrests and wants to control those priests close to him who also refuse to join the CPCA,” the source said. He added that the government had pressured a deacon in the diocese, threatening to demolish his house and sack his children if he further supported Bishop Guo’s refusal to join the Patriotic Church.
An insider in the Fu’an city government revealed to Bitter Winter that Fr. Liu Maochun’s arrest was linked to the investigation to find the leaks about the torture of Father Huang, another Mindong priest who refuses to join the CPCA. The regime suspects that Fr. Liu Maochun may be one of the people who had shared the information about Fr. Huang with foreign media.
A local Catholic told Bitter Winter that Fr. Liu Maochun had posted a message on WeChat, saying that if he joined the CPCA, it would be because of the government’s despicable and vicious tactics, but not on his own accord.
The next day after Fr. Liu’s arrest, the Ningde city Public Security Bureau ordered to arrest Father Zhu Rutuan, another priest in the diocese, to pressure him into joining the CPCA. Having been warned, the priest went into hiding, and Bureau officials are now using hi-tech surveillance technology to track him down.
A government insider told Bitter Winter that authorities treat those clergy members who refuse to join the Patriotic Church as “having extreme religious ideologies” because they only believe in God and reject the CCP leadership. “There are plans to detain those with ‘extreme ideologies’ or those labeled as xie jiao members in special indoctrination courses, which will be called “House of Love,” the source said.