Rome (AsiaNews) – After 11 months in detention, Fr. Paolo Jiang Sunian, chancellor of the Wenzhou diocese (eastern Zhejiang) was released August 24th. During his imprisonment, Father Jiang was allowed to receive medical treatment in a hospital when his nasosinusitis, an inflammation of the nasal sinuses, worsened. The priest is now diagnosed to have heart disease, high blood pressure and vascular sclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
Fr. Jiang and the diocese's vicar general, Father Peter Shao Zhumin, 46, were arrested together in Shenzhen, southern China, on Sept. 25, 2006i: officers failed to provide a motive for their arrest at the time of their detention. Both were arrested at three in the afternoon from a friend’s house, shortly after they had arrived in Shenzhen from a pilgrimage to Europe. Their belongings were confiscated, including notes and photographs taken when Pope Benedict XVI received them in the Vatican.
In March, both priests were charged with "illegal exit." Father Jiang was sentenced to 11 months' imprisonment. Father Shao was sentenced to nine months, but was released on parole in May due to severe hearing and gallstone problems. Recently, he underwent an operation on his right ear. According to some local sources, the present head of the detention centre Putaopeng (where both priest were locked up), was previously the official who had led a crackdown on the Wenzhou underground Church in 1999.
Both Fr. Shao and Fr. Jiang have already been submitted to imprisonment, the first internment dating back to 1999. Fr Shao was released after he was urgently hospitalized for an illness contracted during his prison stay. In November of the same year Fr Jiang was stopped for having illegally published over 120 hymn booklets and subsequently formally arrested on December 23rd. His sentence amounted to 6 years imprisonment and 270 thousand Yuan, but he was released on Christmas day 2003.
Bishop of the diocese of Wenzhou, Msgr. James Lin Xili, was also arrested in September 1999 and is to this day confined to the Official Cathedral and denied freedom of movement. He is currently suffering ill health. For further information on the previous arrests of Fr. Shao and Jiang, click here.