Holy See has expressed “grave concern” over the fate of Mgr Shao Zhumin, held by police for more than a month
The bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang), who belongs to the underground community, is said to be undergoing brainwashing to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Since China and the Holy See resumed talks three years ago, this is the first time that the Holy See Press Office speaks about a detained bishop. The faithful have felt too much pain over the Vatican’s extended silence. Germany’s ambassador in Beijing, Michael Clauss, has talked about the case. The Vatican’s press office calls on the faithful to pray for Bishop Shao Zhumin and “the path of the Catholic Church in China.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The Holy See is observing with grave concern the personal situation of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, forcibly removed from his episcopal see some time ago,” said Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office in a press release today, a month after police seized the prelate.
Mgr Shao was taken away by police officers and members of the Religious Affairs Bureau in Zhejiang Province on the evening of 18 May after he was summoned to appear. The prelate’s 90-year-old mother has called for his release. In Wenzhou, the faithful have launched a chain of prayers.
"The diocesan Catholic community and his relatives have no news or reasons for his removal, nor do they know where he is being held," read the Holy See press release. The bishop was seen at Wenzhou Airport on 16 June, only to disappear in the hands of public security officials.
As for why he is missing, some Catholic believe that he is being subjected to “religious seminars" (i.e. brainwashing) in order to force him to joint the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), which the Vatican considers "incompatible with Catholic doctrine. "
Bishop Shao belongs to the unofficial community and is therefore not a member of the CPCA. As such, he is not recognised by the government. Still, he became the ordinary bishop of Wenzhou after the death of his predecessor, Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang.
In its press release, the Holy See Press Office went on to say that "the Holy See, profoundly saddened for this and other similar episodes that unfortunately do not facilitate ways of understanding, expresses the hope that Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin may return as soon as possible to the diocese and that he can be assured the possibility of serenely exercising his episcopal ministry. We are all invited to pray for Bishop Shao Zhumin and for the path of the Catholic Church in China.”
Since the Vatican and China began informal talks three years ago, this is the first time the Holy See has spoken about an imprisoned bishop. Many Chinese Catholics have expressed pain for the Vatican’s extended silence on persecuted bishops, priests and laity.
Recently, even the German ambassador to China, Michael Clauss, issued an official statement calling for Mgr Peter Shao Zhumin’s release.
Mgr Guo Xijin, bishop of Mindong (Fujian), a member of the underground community but recognised as a bishop by the Holy See, was also taken by the police but has been recently allowed to return to his diocese.
By contrast, the situation of Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, bishop of Shanghai, has not changed and he remains in isolation under house arrest.