NEWS BRIEFS

– Tej Francis

BEIJING, CHINA

AFTER VATICAN-CHINA DEAL, CHINESE BISHOP IMPRISONED FOR 23 YEARS IS NOT YET RELEASED

(CNA) The nephew of a Chinese bishop who was arrested 23 years ago has said he does not know where his uncle is incarcerated, or even whether he is still alive. “His whereabouts are unknown and I don’t even know if he is alive or not. I am upset with tears every time I think of this 87-year-old man. Please pray for him,” Su Tianyou told UCAN news recently. His uncle is Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding, in China’s Hebei province, southwest of Beijing.

In 1996, the bishop was arrested during a procession, and charged with conducting “unregistered” religious activities: Su had refused to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the government recognized Catholic Church in China, and was instead a member of the “underground” Church- in communion with Rome, and appointed a bishop by Pope St. John Paul II, but unrecognized by the Chinese government as a bishop.

It was not the first time Su was arrested. According to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Human Rights Commission, Su has spent 40 years in prison, “without charge, without trial. Before being arrested in 1996, Bishop Su Zhimin was held off and on for 26 years either in prison or forced labor camps.  The Chinese government deemed him as ‘counterrevolutionary’ because, since the 1950s, he has refused to join the Patriotic Association,” the Human Rights Commission says.

Su reportedly escaped Chinese detention in 1997, but was rearrested. “In November 2003, his family discovered him by chance at a hospital in Baoding, surrounded by police and public security.  He has not been heard or seen from since, despite repeated international inquiries,” according to the Human Rights Commission.

HARRISBURG, PA.,

LEGISLATOR ACKNOWLEDGES AGGRESSION TOWARD WOMAN PRAYING AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD

(CNA) Brian Sims, a Pennsylvania state legislator who confronted a woman praying outside Planned Parenthood last week, said in a video posted to social media Tuesday that he was aggressive, and he reiterated his intention of “pushing back” against those who pray or protest outside abortion clinics. Sims had live streamed a video May 2 in which he can be seen approaching a woman outside of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The woman, by herself, can be seen praying the rosary across the street from the Planned Parenthood.

He aggressively questioned her for several minutes, and addressing live stream viewers he solicited the woman’s name and address, saying, “we’ll protest outside of her home. Let’s go protest out in front of her house and tell her what’s right for her body. I will fiercely protect a woman’s right to make the best choices for her health & her body, unimpeded. I also know that two wrongs don’t make a right, especially on the front lines of a civil rights battle. I can do better, and I will do better, for the women of Pennsylvania.”

  “I’ve also spent the last seven years serving as a volunteer patient escort at this Planned Parenthood, and I have seen firsthand the insults, the slurs, the attacks, and the racism that those protesters aim at mostly young girls … and last week was no different.  What I should have shown you in that video was protestors gathered together to pray at, not to silently pray for, people coming in and out of Planned Parenthood as they intercepted them and harassed them,” he stated. Sims did not apologize to the woman he confronted in the video.

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN

PAKISTAN SUPREME COURT ACQUITS ASIA BIBI OF BLASPHEMY CHARGES

(CNA) The Pakistan Supreme Court Wednesday overturned the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Roman Catholic woman convicted of blasphemy in 2010, after reserving judgment on the verdict earlier this month. Chief Justice Saqib Nisarm, who read out the verdict, said Oct. 31 that Bibi is free to leave the prison in Sheikhupura, Pakistan.

The landmark verdict has been followed by protests from Islamic hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws in the country, and a heavy police presence was deployed at the Supreme Court in Islamabad to guard against a violent outbreak. Asia Bibi’s daughter, Eisham Ashiq, 18, told Aid to the Church in Need: “I am so happy. I want to thank God. This is the most wonderful moment. I can’t wait to hug my mother and then celebrate with my family. I am grateful to God for listening to our prayers.”

In 2009, Bibi was accused of making disparaging remarks about the Islamic prophet Muhammad after an argument stemming from a cup of water. She was convicted of blasphemy in 2010, and was sentenced to death by hanging. She immediately appealed. The Lahore High Court upheld conviction in 2014, which she then appealed to the country’s Supreme Court. The Supreme Court agreed to hear her appeal in 2015. Since her arrest, Bibi has garnered international support from numerous world leaders calling for her immediate release, including Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. In 2015, Pope Francis met with her daughter and offered prayers.

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