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Chinese bishop who was removed from diocese by Communist regime is arrested

Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of the Diocese of Wenzhou in the eastern region of Zhejiang, China, was arrested by Chinese security forces on Jan. 2, according to a report by AsiaNews.

During his arrest, the bishop was, according to an AsiaNews source, instructed to “take clothes for spring, summer, autumn, and winter,” indicating that his detention will be for a prolonged period of time.

As is often the case when senior clergy are detained, the exact location of the bishop’s detention is unknown.

The report went on to speculate that the reason for his arrest resulted from a letter he wrote to the state-approved diocesan administrator in which the bishop expressed his dismay over changes made in the diocese without his consent.

Shao was ordained a priest in 1989 and was made coadjutor bishop of Wenzhou by papal mandate on Nov. 10, 2011. His appointment took place during a period that marked a low point in Sino-Vatican relations when there were a series of illicit episcopal consecrations without the approval of the Apostolic See.

In 2016 he was made bishop of the diocese following the death of Bishop Vincent Zhu Wei-Fang. Chinese authorities have refused to recognize his ordination and ministry as bishop and placed Father Ma Xianshi as diocesan administer because of Shao’s refusal to join the state-organized bodies governing the Church in China.

The 61-year-old prelate has been subject to frequent harassment, arrest, and detention by Chinese authorities for his refusal to legitimize the state-run Church and its affiliated organs, such as the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), to the consternation of local authorities and state-affiliated clergy.

Shao was last detained in February 2023 along with his personal secretary, Father Paolo Jiang Sunian, in a move that was interpreted as an attempt to prevent them from attending the funeral of underground priest Father Leo Chen Nailiang.

Read more at Catholic News Agency 

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