05/19/2007, 00.00
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Wenzhou vicar general released due to ill health

The underground priest is suffering from an illness probably contracted during the period of his detention. He has thanked all those who mobilized themselves for his release and to bring to light his situation. Fr Jiang Sunian remains in prison.

Rome (AsiaNews) –Fr. Shao Zhoumin was released from prison a month before the end of his sentence, due to his ill health.  Fr Shao, 43, is vicar general of the underground diocese of Wenzhou (Zhejiang).  He was arrested last August on his return from a pilgrimage to Rome, accused of having falsified his passport.

Condemned in April to 9 months detention, he was to have left prison in June.  AsiaNews sources confirm however, that he was freed May 16th, a month before term, due to an illness that has left him totally deaf.  Fr Shao had already served a prison sentence in ’99, which was once again brought short due to ill health: he had contracted a disease during his prison stay.  Today Fr. Shao was admitted to hospital for medical care.  Speaking to some of his friends he expressed his thanks to all those in China and abroad who mobilized themselves for his release, by publishing news of his situation and placing politicians under pressure to free him.

Along with Fr. Shao last august a second underground priest was arrested, Fr. Jiang Sunian, chancellor of Wenzhou diocese. He was condemned to 11 months in prison and should be freed at the end of August.  Fr Jiang is also ill, and suffers from respiratory complications.  Both priests have been denied visits from friends and family.


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