Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A. - 31 underground Roman Catholics, 26 of whom were students under 18 years of age, were arrested during a summer vacation catechism class in a private home. The arrest occurred on the morning of July 18, 2002 in Dong-An village, Guantou township, Lianjiang County in Fujian province. Among the 31 arrested were a Catholic nun, Sister Chen Mei, 27 years of age, and four chaperons. These adults and students were all thrown into Lianjiang County prison. The children and chaperons were released after one day. The nun, Sister Chen Mei, is still detained.
Joseph Kung, the president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said: "The Patriotic Association in the region organizes catechism classes for its own students openly and legally. The underground Roman Catholic Church is not allowed to do the same. Religious services and catechism classes for the underground Church must be conducted in private homes in secret because underground Church is illegal in China. The government intimidates and harasses innocent young children to pressure them and their parents to leave the underground Catholic Church in order to join the Patriotic Association. On numerous occasions, the Chinese government had assured the foreign governments and their religious leaders that the Chinese constitution guaranteed religious freedom to Chinese citizens. We urge these same governments and religious leaders to raise their voices of justice for Sister Chen Mei and hundreds of Roman Catholic bishops and clergy who are currently held in Chinese jails and detention camps."