» 11/19/2014, 00.00
CHINA - VATICAN
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.
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
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
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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