LAST ´FREE´ BISHOP OF CLANDESTINE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE DETAINED

China
1991-12-27 00:00:00

Jesuit Bishop Paul Li Zhenrong of Xianxian, who is not recognized by the Chinese government, was reportedly detained on Nov. 20, 1991, at a bus station in Xianxian township, Hebei province, northern China.

Xianxian is about 140 kilometers east of Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei.

Bishop Li eluded police searches and arrests during the past two years, Catholic sources told UCA News here Dec. 24.

The Jesuit bishop is the last to be arrested of the 10-odd bishops who had attended a clandestine bishops´ conference meeting in Sanyuan, Shaanxi province, on Nov. 21, 1989, a Catholic source said.

All the rest were detained. Some were released but are still under surveillance. Some were sentenced to reform-through-labor farms.

The Sanyuan meeting participants pledged that their newly formed episcopal conference would "fully accept the leadership of the pope, (and) keep itself in complete communion with the whole Catholic Church."

However, the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong daily, carried an Agence France Presse (AFP) report Dec. 24 claiming that the bishop was detained in Tianjin on Dec. 11 as he was recovering from surgery in a Tianjin hospital.

The AFP report quoted a religious source Dec. 23 saying the surgeon and his wife, a young seminarian and a Catholic couple whom the bishop had stayed with were also detained.

Bishop Li, 72, was ordained priest in 1951 and received episcopal ordination in 1983. He was sentenced to 15 years´ imprisonment in 1957. Following his release in 1980, the bishop returned to Xianxian diocese.

Xianxian diocese has been renamed by the government-approved open Church as Cangzhou diocese under the leadership of another Jesuit, Bishop Liu Dinghan.

-- Meanwhile, Jesuit Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang has been under house arrest in Shanghai since he was released in August, Catholic sources said.

The bishop is confined to his own house but is allowed to say Mass privately, they said.

END

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