a press conference in Rome on the Jesuits' work with Italian youth movements and prompted a Vatican spokesperson to state that the information was the responsibility of the Jesuit official alone.
The news was not, however, denied and is believed to have filtered back to Rome through missionary channels. The Holy See is believed to have held back from making any public announcement for fear of affecting the currently delicate relations between the Vatican and the Beijing authorities.
Following the Pope's decision to elevate the 90 year old Chinese Bishop Gong Pin Mei at the June consistory to the rank of cardinal in recognition of his suffering and imprisonment over many years for refusing to join the "Patriotic Church" and remaining loyal to Rome, a spate of arrests and persecutions began against other loyalist clergy.
Estimates at present suggest equal numbers of "Patriotic" and loyalist Catholics in China, where those faithful to Rome have been forced since the 1950s to operate as a virtual underground church.