01/31/2023, 15.08
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Communist Party removes Bishop Shao Zhumin … again

The prelate’s secretary is also detained. The goal is to prevent them from attending the funeral of an “underground” clergyman, Fr Chen Nailiang. Shao has been the victim of constant government persecution. The bishop of Xuanhua was also banned from travelling for Lunar New Year celebrations.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou (Zhejiang) is missing again. Local sources told AsiaNews that the authorities took the prelate and his secretary, Fr Jiang Sunian (who also serves as the chancellor of the diocese), to prevent them from attending the funeral of Fr Chen Nailiang, who died on Sunday at the age of 90.

Like Wenzhou’s first bishop, Mgr Lin Xili, Bishop Shao has often been subjected to brainwashing sessions designed to force him to join the “official” Church, controlled by the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Bishop Shao is recognised by the pope but not by the Party, which claims authority over all religious activities.

Christians represent more than 10 per cent of the population in Zhejiang. Like Bishop Shao, Fr Chen belonged to the "underground" community; for this reason, the authorities banned all underground religious from attending the funeral or celebrating Mass. Three priests from Rui'an parish would perform the latter.

Fr Chen, who served as parish priest in Pingyang, was much loved by his congregation. The CPC persecuted him since he joined the Catholic Church in the late 1940s and early 1950s, jailing him and sending him to labour camps for “re-education” for several years.

Bishop Shao has endured state persecution as well; he too has been arrested and detained several times, the last one on 7 April 2022, when the authorities took him elsewhere by plane, probably to prevent him from celebrating Holy Week services, especially the Chrism Mass.

A few months earlier, on 25 October 2021, police took him into custody, ostensibly for "tourism" and released about two weeks later.

In a similar case, police took Bishop Shao and Fr Jiang on a “trip” between 23 August and 8 October 2016 so that they would not attend the funeral of Bishop Zhu Weifang, Bishop Shao’s predecessor in the Diocese of Wenzhou.

Government repression of Chinese Catholics, especially members of the underground Church, continues despite the 2018 Vatican Agreement on episcopal appointments, which was renewed in October 2020 and 2022.

In addition to Bishop Shao, Bishop Jia Zhiguo was also detained, placed under house arrest. Other bishops, like Bishop Guo Xijin, were harassed or forced to attend political sessions, including Bishop Zhang Weizhu.

The communist regime also placed Bishop Augustine Cui Tai of Xuanhua (Hebei) under house arrest several times, banning him from travelling during Lunar New Year. His family was allowed to visit him.

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