07/04/2011, 00.00
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Ban on praying for Mgr Su Zhimin, who spent 40 years in prison

The bishop of Baoding (Hebei) is 80 years old. He disappeared in the hands of police in 1997. For the government, he is the “most reactionary” prelate because he refuses to break with the pope. For the faithful, he “is the greatest and most famous Chinese bishop because of his faithfulness to the Holy See.”
Beijing (AsiaNews) – The authorities in Baoding (Hebei) have deployed police in the streets, ordered controls on mobile phones and banned groups from meeting in homes to prevent a simple act, namely remembering the birthday of Mgr James Su Zhimin (pictured), Baoding’s underground bishop who disappeared in the hands of the police in 1997. Since then, his family has not had any news about his fate, except a report that said that he had been hospitalised in 2003.

Relatives wanted to remember him with prayers on his 80th birthday, 1 July. The prelate spend half of that time in prison for his faith.

He has steadfastly rejected attempts to force him to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the organisation the Communist Party uses to control Catholics and develop a national Catholic Church separate from the pope.

For the occasion, the bishop’s nephews and nieces had organised a prayer meeting at their homes, but police banned it.

When relatives asked the Baoding authorities for information about Mgr Su’s fate, they were told that the government “did not know anything about him”.

For the authorities, Mgr Su Zhimin is China’s “most reactionary bishop” because of his faithfulness to the pope. For the faithful, he “is the greatest and most famous Chinese bishop because of his faithfulness to the Holy See.”

Mgr Su Zhimin had replaced Joseph Fan Xueyan, who died in 1993 under torture by police.
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