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    » 11/19/2014, 00.00


    Yujiang's underground bishop released but under police surveillance

    The prelate cannot leave Jiangxi province or exercise his episcopal ministry. The government might be trying to favour the official bishop, who toes the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association line. For now, the bishops of Shanghai, Baoding, and Yixian are still imprisoned.

    Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Mgr John Peng Weizhao, underground bishop of Yujiang (Jiangxi), was released a few days ago. However, he remains under police watch and cannot exercise his episcopal ministry.

    According to UCANews, the prelate's release occurred on Friday on the condition that he does not travel outside of Jiangxi province for three months.

    Mgr Peng was arrested on 30 May. In April, the Holy See had secretly appointed him as bishop of Yujiang in lieu of Mgr Thomas Zeng Jingmu on grounds of age and whom he had served as apostolic administrator since 2012. Probably, Chinese authorities got wind of the nomination and decided to arrest him.

    The area covered by the underground Diocese of Yujiang is part of the official Diocese of Nanchang (created from the merger of five existing dioceses), which is led by Bishop John Li Suguang.

    Unlike Mgr Peng, who trained in the underground Church, Li Suguang is in an ambiguous situation vis-à-vis the Holy See with a record of participating in unlawful ordinations and a propensity to follow the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA).

    Mgr Peng's arrest was seen as a way to marginalise him in favour of the official bishop who toes the CPCA line. However, in Jiangxi, local Catholics, who number at least 100,000, tend to gravitate towards Bishop Peng rather than Bishop Li.

    It is unclear whether the decision to release the prelate comes from Beijing or provincial authorities. What is clear though is that the Chinese government still detains a number of both official and underground bishops.

    Among the former, there is Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, official bishop of Shanghai, who has been under house arrest for the past two years for resigning from the CPCA; among the latter we have Mgr James Su Zhimin, bishop of Baoding, who has been in police custody since 1997, and Mgr Cosma Shi Enxiang, senior bishop of Yixian, who was seized by police in 2001.

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    See also

    24/03/2010 CHINA – VATICAN
    Another underground priest arrested in Fujian
    He organised a camp for 300 university students. He was charged along with other priests, one of whom was held for 15 days and then released. Two more are waiting for their arrest. Tens of priests are currently detained in prisons or forced labour camps. Three bishops are still in police custody years after they disappeared. The Vatican Commission on the Church in China ends its plenary session today.

    10/05/2005 CHINA-VATICAN
    Bishop languishing in Beijing's prisons for four years
    The authorities deny knowing anything about the fate of Bishop Shi Enxiang or Fr Liu Deli, jailed for six years, whose names join that of many others on a list AsiaNews published back in March.

    25/05/2010 CHINA - VATICAN
    Our Lady of Sheshan, persecution and division
    Chinese Catholics at home and around the world prayed for the Church in China, according to the intention laid out by Benedict XVI in his letter of June 2007. The shrine is a place of encounter between underground and official Christians, the government continues to prohibit pilgrimages. Unity in truth for the Church in China and in relations between Beijing and the Vatican.

    07/09/2007 VATICAN - CHINA
    Guiyang, first Episcopal ordination after Pope’s Letter
    The Holy See approves. Perhaps for the first time ever bishops and faithful from underground and official Church will celebrate together.

    07/01/2005 CHINA – VATICAN
    Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo arrested once again
    It is the sixth arrest in a year. Back in April the Vatican deemed his detention inadmissible.

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