UCA News

China

Bishop Shao freed by Chinese authorities

Seven-month detention ends following pressure from the Vatican and overseas campaigners

ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong

ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong

Updated: January 10, 2018 05:41 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Bishop Shao freed by Chinese authorities

Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou was released Jan. 3 after seven months in detention. (Photo supplied)

Share this article :
Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin has been released by Chinese authorities after being detained for seven months.

The underground bishop from Wenzhou Diocese of Zhejiang province was released Jan. 3 and is expected to return to Wenzhou, one of China's biggest Christian citiesm  soon.

A source who wanted to be unnamed told ucanews.com that after Bishop Shao was taken away in May 2017, officials from Wenzhou City Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs tried to force him to sign an agreement.

The agreement requested the bishop to support the State Administration for Religious Affairs and the self-election and self-ordination of bishops.  

After a lot of pressure, Bishop Shao signed the agreement just to prove that he had read it but put a remark that he did not agree with the terms, the source said.

“What the government is doing is like the Cultural Revolution, arresting you and forcing you to sign documents to support the authority,” the source said.

Now the bishop is staying in a Catholic’s home in Xining city of Qinghai province in central China, 2,500 kilometers away from Wenzhou, and will go to Beijing for a hearing check Jan. 22 before going back to Wenzhou.

Bishop Shao has a congenital ear disease. During his detention last September, he attended Beijing Tongren Hospital to have ear surgery.

After surgery, he was bought to Xining for recovery but was still monitored.

Bishop Shao was taken away from his diocese on May 18, 2017. It was the fourth detention after he was confirmed as a bishop.

“However, it was the first time that officials from Wenzhou City Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs were involved to arrest him; while only National Security officials did so in the past,” the source said.

The reason for taking away the bishop is still a mystery but it is believed that a new director of Wenzhou Provincial Administration for Religious Affairs wanted to resolve problems concerning Bishop Shao.

Bishop Shao comes from the underground church of Wenzhou and refused to join the State Administration for Religious Affairs. In September 2016, he was confirmed in his episcopacy by the Vatican following the death of his predecessor, Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang.

The source also believed that authorities released him as a result of pressure from overseas and prayers and fasting organized by Wenzhou Diocese during Christmas.

“The news about Wenzhou Diocese launching monthly prayers and fasting for the bishop starting from Dec. 18 spread out overseas quickly, causing the authorities to take action,” the source told ucanews.com.

The Vatican issued a statement on June 26, 2017, saying it was saddened with the situation of the disappearance of Bishop Shao. The German government also publicly expressed the hope that the bishop may be released.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM

Publisher

Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."