01/31/2018, 12.17
CHINA-VATICAN
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Celebrations as Msgr. Shao Zhumin returns to Wenzhou (Video)

He had been in the hands of the police for seven months. Pressure exerted to make him join the Patriotic Association.

Wenzhou (AsiaNews) - Msgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, ordinary bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang), recognized by the Holy See, but not by the government, has returned to his diocese. On January 27th he was welcomed by the faithful with a celebration, prayers and a song specially composed for his return. The song welcomes him as "our dear bishop who leads us to Christ. Our bishop is the good shepherd ... your name is always in our hearts ".

On May 18 he was taken from his diocese by public security forces and members of the Religious Affairs Bureau and held in Xining (Qinghai), 2500 km from Wenzhou, still under police escort. As of January 4 he is free to move and is no longer escorted by security personnel. Sources from the diocese had told AsiaNews that he would stop in Beijing at the hospital to be treated following an ear operation.

In all these months, police exerted psychological pressure on him to make him join the Patriotic Association, the Party body that wants a Church independent of the Holy See. Faced with his refusal, in early December, representatives of religious affairs asked him to sign a document with the four conditions for receiving government recognition. They include his support for the principle of an independent Church; support for self-nomination and self-ordination [of the bishops]; concelebration with an illegitimate bishop, not recognized by the Vatican; submission to the new religious regulations that will be launched next February. But again Msgr. Shao refused.

For decades the Catholic community of Wenzhou - about 130,000 faithful - has been divided between official and non-official communities: more than 80 thousand belong to the unofficial community. There are 70 priests, divided equally between the two communities. Msgr Shao, 54, despite being a member of the underground Church, is also appreciated by the official community. 

Following the bishop’s abduction, the German ambassador to Beijing Michael Clauss spoke up for his release. Even the Holy See had expressed concern over its fate.

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