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July 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — On the day a Chinese bishop was consecrated under the terms of the secret Vatican-China agreement — an event heralded by the Vatican — a faithful Catholic priest was detained by the police and tortured for 10 hours after refusing to join the church recognized by the Chinese authorities.

AsiaNews reported that Fr. Joseph Liu of the diocese of Mindong was arrested Tuesday as a result of refusing to join the government-run independent church, formally known as Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA). Sources confirmed to AsiaNews that the priest suffered “terrible violence,” and after “10 hours of torture, six policemen took him by the hand and forced him to sign.”

Liu was made to sign an official document denoting his membership of the government-recognized church, described by AsiaNews as “an expression of the Chinese Communist Party.”

“The persecution of Catholic religious is not stopping,” stated the news outlet’s source.

On the same day, Bishop Li Hui was consecrated as the new coadjutor bishop of Pingliang. He was consecrated by Bishop Ma Yinglin of Kunming (Yunnan), who is president of the Chinese Bishops’ Conference and vice president of the CPCA.

Three other diocesan bishops were also present for the occasion, along with over 30 priests and 20 nuns.

Vatican News hailed the consecration of Bishop Li, noting that he was the fifth bishop since the Vatican had signed its controversial agreement with China, “the Provisional Accord between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China on the nomination of bishops.” Matteo Bruni, the Holy See’s Press Office director, confirmed that Li had been nominated by Pope Francis on January 11 of this year.

The deal between the Vatican and China allegedly recognizes the state-approved church and allows the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to appoint the bishops. The Pope apparently maintains a veto power, although in practice it is the CCP which has control. It also allegedly allows for the removal of legitimate bishops to be replaced by CCP-approved bishops. The actual precise terms of the deal, however, remain a closely guarded secret.

Originally drawn up in 2018, the deal was renewed in October 2020. In comments made to members of the press at the time, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin declared: “As far as the accord is concerned, we are content. There are still many other problems but we never expected the accord to resolve all the problems.”

The outspoken former bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, has repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by the Vatican’s accord with Communist China. The cardinal described the Pope’s actions as “encouraging a schism. You are legitimizing the schismatic church in China.”

Cardinal Zen noted that signing to show one’s submission to the “schismatic church” means that “[y]ou are cheating the whole world. You are cheating the faithful. To sign the document is not to sign a declaration. When you sign, you accept to be a member of that church under the leadership of the communist party. So terrible, terrible.”

In an interview with LifeSiteNews early last year, Cardinal Zen further warned that communists “never accept compromise. They want full surrender. And so now we are at the bottom. They finished the operation selling the Church.”

“With a totalitarian regime, there’s no possibility of any talk or bargaining. No, no,” warned Zen. “They just want you on your knees.”

According to the Vatican Press Office, the first bishop consecrated under the terms of the secretive deal was Bishop Antonio Yao Shun in August 2019. Some noted at the time that he had been named bishop years ago, thus precluding this ordination from being a test for the success of the agreement.

Religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter reported that Fr. Liu is not the only Catholic priest undergoing persecution currently for not joining the CPCA supported by the Pope. On May 21, around 100 Public Security agents raided a disused factory which had been used by Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of the Xinxiang Diocese, in Henan province, as a seminary for those who did not want to join the CCP-approved church. Bishop Zhang was arrested, along with ten priests and ten seminarians.

Three seminarians at first escaped, but were later captured. All the seminarians were sent home to their families but threatened with imprisonment if they continued their priestly studies.

The priests were removed to “Legal Education Centers” before being released with the same warning, but the location and status of Bishop Zhang remains unknown still.

One Chinese Catholic priest, who is not part of the CCP-approved church, told Bitter Winter, “We do not see any positive result of the Vatican agreement. We pray for the Pope every day, but believe he has received false information about China. We will not join the Patriotic Association.”

Fr. David Palmer, a U.K. Catholic priest in the Ordinariate, commented, “This Vatican deal with China is utterly despicable … why is the Vatican saying nothing? Something is seriously wrong in Rome. It’s time for all Catholics to call this out.”