A Catholic priest in China who was reported missing early this month has resurfaced and has reportedly joined the “official” church.
A report on ChinaAid said Father Xie Tianming of the Diocese of Baoding in Hebei province has gone missing on April 10.
He was later reported to have undergone “political indoctrination” and has decided to join the “official” Church.
A report on AsiaNews earlier said Chinese authorities took the priest and detained him in an undisclosed location, where he would be politically “re-educated.”
ChinaAid said information and news about Father Xie Tianming “is extremely limited due to the long-standing information blockade imposed by the People’s Republic of China.”
The group said Chinese authorities usually take religious figures in the form of supervision known as being “placed under surveillance.”
Although not in prison, the indoctrination sessions can go on for up to three years without the authorities having to press any charges.
Those under serveillance are restricted in their movement and activities, and they are forced to attend political indoctrination sessions and join the “official” Church.
ChinaAid said that since the signing of the China-Vatican agreement on the appointment of bishops in 2018, the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party launched a campaign to require all priests to demonstrate their loyalty to the party for official registration.
Those who refuse are taken from the parish or community and eventually end up in detention, said the group.
The report said that at least half of the priests in Baoding who were formerly loyal to the Holy See officially registered with the government.
In the first four months of 2022, ten priests who were reported missing underwent the “indoctrination sessions.”
Some of them subsequently joined the official Church while others who did not join remained under surveillance and could no longer perform their ministry, said ChinaAid.