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‘Underground’ bishops released

Prelates taken on guided tour, urged to cooperate more with authorities

Coadjutor Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou Coadjutor Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou
  • ucanews.com reporter, Wenzhou
  • China
  • April 16, 2012
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Two Chinese bishops not recognized by the government were freed by authorities on Easter Sunday, according to Church sources.

Coadjutor Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou in eastern Zhejiang province and Bishop Peter Jin Lugang of Nanyang in central Henan province were detained for three weeks and four days respectively.

Bishop Shao was detained on March 19. Local Church sources said his detention included a “brainwashing” learning class on the country’s religious policies.

Government officials expressed “great concern” over the secret Episcopal ordination of the Bishop of Tianshui in north-western Gansu province last year, in which Bishop Shao and four other underground bishops took part.

The sources said this was the main reason why Bishop Shao was detained.

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

Bishop Shao was also warned to restrain himself and not to travel too extensively to visit Wenzhou Catholics who do business across the country.

The 49-year-old prelate had been taken “sightseeing” in south-western Sichuan province. He was escorted by government officials to Leshan diocese where he met the excommunicated Father Paul Lei Shiyin, who received Episcopal ordination without a papal mandate last June.

Fr Lei and the officials showed Bishop Shao a Church-run hospital, guesthouse and the construction site of the new bishop’s house.

Bishop Shao was told it was rare honor for the Catholic Church in Leshan to enjoy such development considering is proximity to an area held sacred by Chinese Buddhism, the sources said.

Then, they visited some historic monuments to the Long March (1934-36), where the officials told Bishop Shao that  building a country is not easy and urged him to cooperate with the government.

The bishop told them he is not opposed to cooperation as long as it does not go against the “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.”

Father Paul Jiang Sunian, Chancellor of Wenzhou, who was detained with Bishop Shao, was released on March 24.

Meanwhile, Bishop Jin was taken away on April 4, Holy Thursday, by officials wanting to prevent him from celebrating the Chrism Mass, which symbolizes a bishop’s communion with his clergy, and other Easter liturgies.

The prelate was detained in a guesthouse and taken by four officials to several tourist spots before being released on Easter Sunday, according to Church sources.

Related reports

Bishop, priest taken for ‘learning classes’

Government recognizes ‘underground’ bishop

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