01/03/2024, 16.32
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Bishop Shao of Wenzhou arrested again

Security forces took the prelate into custody last night, telling him to bring clothes for every season. Ordained coadjutor bishop with papal mandate in 2011, he is not recognised by the authorities for refusing to join the Patriotic Association. Since the death of his predecessor in 2016, he has been prevented from carrying out his ministry in one of China’s oldest and foremost Catholic communities. Now “the faithful are praying for him” and his release, a source told AsiaNews.

Wenzhou (AsiaNews) – For Chinese Catholics, 2024 began with the arrest of 61-year-old Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, sources told AsiaNews.

Bishop Shao is not recognised by the Chinese government and is therefore routinely jailed by local authorities to prevent him from carrying out his ministry serving the vibrant local Catholic community.

Security forces took the prelate into custody yesterday. “He was ordered to take clothes for spring, summer, autumn, and winter,” a source said. “This suggests that his situation is not promising and that he will probably be held for a long time. The faithful are worried because they don't even know where he will be detained.”

Bishop Shao was ordained coadjutor bishop with a papal mandate in 2011, and succeeded Bishop Vincent Zhu Wei-Fang when the latter passed away in September 2016.

However, by refusing to join official bodies imposed by the government on Chinese Catholics, he has never been recognised by the authorities. Considering the see vacant, the government put in charge of the diocese a member of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, Father Ma Xianshi.

During festivities Bishop Shao is regularly taken into custody to prevent him from leading public celebrations in a city that is nicknamed the Jerusalem of the East for its churches.

This year, however, things went a little differently. A few days before Christmas, on 16 December, Bishop Shao was taken away by security forces only to be released two days later.

Then, on December 24 and 25, he was taken to Taishun County to prevent him from celebrating Christmas Mass, but he still reported that he spent one of the most peaceful Christmases in his life.

His arrest came later, following a new letter that Bishop Shao wrote to Fr Ma on 31 December, believing in good conscience that he had to protest the decisions about the diocese made without his authority.

"I have written to you," reads the letter that Bishop Shao made public, “expressing my desire to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss solutions to some of the complex problems of the diocese at this time.

“Your answer was that it was not convenient for you to meet me. So I am writing to ask you to pass on my opinions to my brother priests and to parishioners."

"In 2019, without my permission, there was a change in parishes and a transfer of priests from this Church, and the unauthorised downgrading of the Diocese of Lishui to parish status under the Diocese of Wenzhou.

"After four years, I read again about a division of parishes and the transfer of priests (decided by Fr Ma for 6 January) without the bishop’s permission. I wrote to you immediately to ask for a nomination.

“The same applies to the promotion of seminarians. According to the law of the Church, it is necessary to be ordained personally by the bishop of the diocese or to have power of attorney from him.

"Pursuant to the Code of Canon Law, anyone who receives holy orders from someone who lacks legitimate power to ordain is automatically suspended."

The letter appears to have provoked a strong reaction on the part of "official" Church bodies in Wenzhou, which are seemingly behind Bishop Shao’s arrest.

"Now," the source told AsiaNews, "the faithful are praying for him, asking the Lord to bring him back to his community as soon as possible.”

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See also
Chinese Priest: Nothing changed for the Church in China after the agreement
19/11/2018 10:30
More than 5,000 faithful attend the funeral of the bishop of Wenzhou. Mgr Peter Shao is still "on vacation" with the police (Photos)
13/09/2016 12:52
Celebrations as Msgr. Shao Zhumin returns to Wenzhou (Video)
31/01/2018 12:17
Msgr. Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou freed after 7 months
04/01/2018 09:13
Wenzhou underground priests pay homage to the late (official) bishop
22/09/2016 14:01


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