Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo released in Hebei

Zhengding (AsiaNews) – Mgr Julius Jia Zhiguo, 70, underground Bishop of Zhengding (in the north-eastern province of Hebei), was released on July 7, the Kung Foundation reported. He had been taken by two men on July 4 to an unknown location.

Mgr Jia has been bishop since 1980 and has already spent 20 years in prison.

He heads one of the most dynamic dioceses in Hebei, the province with the highest concentration of Catholics: 1.5 million.

He is under house arrest most of the time.

His arrest on July 4 was the sixth since January 2004.

In the past the Vatican had appealed for his liberation.

The repeated arrests and abuses are attempts to convince Bishop Jia to join the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), i.e. the organisation through which the Chinese Communist party tries to control the Catholic Church.

The CPA's own constitution calls for a Church that is independent from the Holy See and the Pope.