A Catholic bishop in Wenzhou (Zhejiang), China, has resurfaced after his alleged kidnapping by authorities last month.
Sources quoted by an AsiaNews report, however, said it is “not yet clear” when Catholic Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou (Zhejiang) has been released.
Aside from saying that the Catholic faithful in the diocese “thank God” for the bishop’s return, the report did not provide other details of Bishop Shao’s whereabouts.
The 58-year-old prelate was taken by authorities “on vacation” on October 26. It was not the first time the bishop was taken away.
He has been arrested several times since he was appointed to the diocese in 2016 for “brainwashing” to make him accept the directives of “patriotic” religious organizations.
In April and of May 2017, Bishop Shao was arrested; after the second arrest, he was detained for seven months. In 2018, he was reportedly arrested again and subjected to indoctrination.
Bishop Shao is recognized by the Vatican but not by the Chinese Communist Party, which claims control over all religious activities in the country.
“Abductions” of religious leaders usually take place on the eve of important Catholic events, such as Christmas, Easter, the Feast of the Assumption, and All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day.
In November, Masses are usually celebrated for the dead, accompanied by meetings and the praying of the Holy Rosary.
In Zhejiang, the percentage of Christians exceeds 10 percent, according to the report, and the faithful “are very zealous.”
In recent years, authorities have blocked the entrance to the Wenzhou cemetery with iron barriers to prevent Catholics from gathering during All Souls’ Day.
Reports said the 2020 China-Vatican agreement on the appointment of bishops has not stopped the persecution of Chinese Catholics, especially the “unofficial” ones.
Born in 1963, Bishop Shao Zhumin was ordained a priest in 1989. In 2011, he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Yongjia.
His appointment was, however, not accepted by the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
Detentions of underground clergy in China are common, as a means of pressuring them to join the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
Earlier in 2021, Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of Xinxiang disappeared for months after Chinese officials detained him along with other clergy and seminarians opposed to joining the state-run church.