Authorities in China arrested the bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang) ahead of the Easter observance reportedly to prevent him from celebrating Holy Week rites.
Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, a member of the “unofficial” (underground) Church, which is recognized by the Vatican but not by Beijing, was taken on April 7, according to an AsiaNews report.
The report said the local faithful are worried because they do not know the whereabouts of the bishop, adding that the police even took his mobile phone.
It was not the first time that the police arrested Bishop Shao, making him “disappear” for months, allegedly to convince him to join the “official” Church that is controlled by the Communist Party.
He was just released in November after several days of detention while the Catholic Church observed All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day.
In January, before the Lunar New Year, authorities also took at least ten priests, including Bishop Agostino Cui Tai of Xuanhua (Hebei) and his assistant, Father Zhang Jianlin, and placed them under house arrest.
The diocese of Xuanhua was established by the Holy See since 1946, but in 1980 the government established the “official” Zhangjiakou diocese, joining it to Xuanhua and Xiwanzi. The diocese of Zhangjiakou is not recognized by the Holy See.
AsiaNews in its report said the signing in 2018, and the renewal in October 2020, of the Sino-Vatican Agreement on the appointment of bishops “has not stopped the persecution of its exponents, especially unofficial ones.”