CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 25 May 2019

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Wenzhou bishop detained again

HONG KONG (UCAN): For the eighth time since he was ordained a priest in 1999, Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of the unofficial Church in Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, China, has been detained by the authorities.
 
A source called John, said that the 55-year-old bishop was taken away on the morning of November 9 by personnel of Yueqing Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau.
 
“The authorities did not explain the reason, only saying that the bishop would be returned to the diocese within 10 to 15 days,” he said.
 
However, he suspected the reason might be related to the Wenzhou faithful commemorating Bishop James Lin Xili at his grave in Yueqing.
 
Bishop Lin, the first bishop of Wenzhou, was secretly ordained on 4 October 1992. The bishop died on 4 October 2009, on the 17th anniversary of his ordination (Sunday Examiner, 18 October 2009).
 
John recounted that on November 4, Bishop Shao along with three priests, went to Yueqing to concelebrate a Mass, attended by around 500 people, in front of Bishop Lin’s tomb.
 
“Personnel of Yueqing Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau and security personnel were on the spot watching. After the Mass, Bishop Shao and one of the priests were called to talk and asked why so many Church members of Wenzhou had attended,” John said.
 
From November 1 to 8 each year, members of parishes in Wenzhou go to Yueqing to commemorate the late bishop and priests who are buried there, he explained.
 
John said the concern of Yueqing authorities was unprecedented and he wondered whether it was related to a recent visit by a religious inspection team sent by the central committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
 
“The Wenzhou Religious Affairs Bureau has always wanted to charge the bishop, but there is no way. They have kicked this hot potato to the Yueqing bureau,” Thomas, another source, said.
 
He said authorities originally wanted to detain Bishop Shao on November 4 but the bishop told them he would be busy until November 8 and asked not to go with them at once.
 
Thomas also said authorities “previously would inform the bishop to go to have a talk and would call us to send clothes and daily necessities the next day, but this time they did not.”
 
John said the parish is praying for Bishop Shao as “we don’t know if the bishop will return in the time they said.” 
 
Zhejiang is one of the most important Christian provinces in China and is estimated to have about two million Christians. Wenzhou City in the province is known as China’s Jerusalem and has about 150,000 Catholics but has been closely monitored and suppressed by authorities for a long time.
 
The government has repeatedly asked Bishop Shao to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, but he has declined. 

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