04/17/2012, 00.00
CHINA - VATICAN

Two underground bishops released, but many priests are arrested

by Wang Zhicheng
Bishop Shao Zhumin was arrested for four weeks, interrogated, brought on "vacation" away from his diocese, "recommended" to join the Patriotic Association. The model to follow: the excommunicated bishop Lei Shiyin. Bishop Jin Lugang detained for four days so he would not celebrate the Easter Triduum with the community. Dozens of underground priests are held for weeks and subjected to "political sessions". First the security of Communist Party's Congress and plan to eliminate the underground Church.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Two bishops of the underground community, not recognized by the Chinese government, were released after a period of "political sessions". But sources tell AsiaNews that every week dozens of unofficial priests of the communities are taken and forced to attend lectures on the government's religious policy and only released after week.

On Easter Sunday, Mgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, coadjutor bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang) and Msgr. Peter Jin Lugang Nanyang (Henan) were able to return to their homes. The two were held, respectively, for four weeks and four days.

Msgr. Shao was arrested in March (see: 07/04/2012 Police pressure on underground community. Easter in the Church of Silence). His arrest was due mainly to gain information from him on the ordination of an underground bishop in Tianshui, in a clear "disobedience" to the politics of self-elections and self-ordinations wanted by the government (see: 24/08/2011 Tianshui: police arrest dozens of underground priests and lay faithful).

The bishop was also subjected to political sessions to subscribe to the Patriotic Association (PA), which promotes a national church independent from the Holy See. The prelate was also brought on a "vacation-visit" to the diocese of Leshan (Sichuan), led by bishop Lei Shiyin, ordained on July 14 without the permission of the pope and excommunicated. Bishop Lei showed the buildings under construction in his diocese, and government representatives "recommended" cooperation with the government. Local sources quoted by UCAN said that Bishop Shao he was in favour of collaboration, provided that it is not against "the one, holy, catholic and apostolic".

Msgr. Jin Lugang was arrested on April 4, Holy Thursday and freed on Easter. His detention prevented him from  celebrating any of the Holy Triduum or Easter liturgies. The police and government officials took him "on holiday" and also "advised" him to join the PA.

AsiaNews sources confirm that this style of detention, political sessions, "advice" to join the Patriotic Association and release after a few weeks has become very common this year. "Dozens of priests are taken every week - sources say - and are released only after several days." In many areas, including Hebei, all underground communities are afraid of arrest and fear has stopped the activities of the faithful. "Even the controls are more avid: home visits, telephone, internet .. they don't miss anything."

According to some, the increase in arrests and controls is due to the attempt to provide security before the Communist Party Congress, to be held next October, during which the leadership of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao will change hands. For others there is a clear pattern of wanting to hasten the demise of the underground community by absorbing them into the official church.

 

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