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Bishop Shao brought home

WENZHOU (AsiaNews): Reports from China say that police took Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, who has been on forced holiday in the northern region of Qinghai, back to home to Wenzhou on October 8.

The reports say that the bishop and his police entourage arrived at 4.30pm. His secretary and diocesan chancellor, Father Paul Jiang Sunian, who has also been exposed to the country air, was with him.

Bishop Shao was the coadjutor to the late Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang. But unlike his predecessor, he does not have government approval and it appears that he was whisked away on holidays to prevent him claiming his position as the rightful bishop of Wenzhou.

Police had taken the two, who both belong to the unofficial Church community in Wenzhou on holidays. While the bishop was in Qinghai, his secretary was taken to Yunnan.

What smells a lot more like an abduction than a holiday began on August 23, keeping them both away from the funeral of Bishop Zhu, who died on September 7 and was buried on September 13.

In a statement on September 21, the Holy See Press Office reaffirmed, “In accordance with canon law, Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, coadjutor of the same diocese, succeeds the deceased prelate (bishop).”

Bishop Shao is held in high esteem by Catholics from both the official and unofficial communities in Zhejiang. But as one person noted, “The local government does everything it can to keep us divided.”

There are fears that the government may appoint another bishop, causing an even deeper split in the Church in Wenzhou.

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