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The Church with Chinese characteristics

WENZHOU (Agencies): Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin and Peter Jin Lugang of Nanyang, together with Father Paul Jiang Sunian, all of whom had been held by the Chinese authorities, were released from custody on April 8, UCA News reported on April 16.

All three belong to unofficial communities of the Church. Bishop Shao, from Wenzhou, had been detained for four weeks and Bishop Jin, from Nanyang in Henan province, for four days.

It is believed that the three were picked up as they had taken part in the ordination of a bishop in the unofficial community in Tianshui, Gansu province, last year.

AsiaNews reported that Bishop Shao was given extensive study sessions on the religious policies of the government, before being taken on a tour to show him examples of the Church with Chinese characteristics.

He was advised to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and to promote independence in the Chinese Church.

Local people say that government officials had expressed great concern over this ordination in which five bishops from the unofficial community took part.

“Central government has attached importance to the ordination, which it sees as an act of defiance of the official Church’s self-election and self-ordination of bishops,” they told UCA News.

Bishop Shao reported that he was told not travel around much within his diocese, even for the purposes of visiting the Catholic people.

The 49-year-old bishop said that after his release he was taken on a sightseeing tour in Sichuan province, by security guards.

He described being escorted to the residence of Father Paul Lei Shiyin, in Leshan, who was ordained a bishop without papal authority in on June 29 last year and is now held to be in a state of self-inflicted excommunication.

Bishop Shao said that Father Lei, together with the officials, took him to look at a Church-run hospital and guesthouse, as well as the new bishop’s residence, which is still under construction.

He said that he was told that this type of development of Church infrastructure is a tremendous effort in a place like Leshan, as it is close to an area held sacred in Buddhism.

He added that afterwards, they visited some historic monuments of the Long March (1934 to 1936), where the officials told the bishop that building a country is not easy and urged him to cooperate with the government.

He said that he told them he is not opposed to cooperation as long as it does not go against the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”

Father Jiang is the chancellor of Wenzhou and was detained with Bishop Shao. He was released on March 24.

Bishop Jin was taken away on Holy Thursday, April 4, which prevented him from celebrating the Chrism Mass, an expression of the collegiality of the bishop and the priests in a diocese.

He was detained in a guesthouse and taken by four officials to several tourist spots before being released on Easter Sunday, UCA News was told.

AsiaNews says that this style of detention has become common, especially in the Hebei area. “Dozens of priests are taken away every week and are released only after several days,” the Rome-based news agency reports.

It adds that surveillance reaches to home visits, telephone and Internet. “They don’t miss anything,” it quoted one priest as saying.

He was advised to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and to promote independence in the Chinese Church

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