Chinese authorities have kidnapped Catholic Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, according to a report by AsiaNews on Tuesday, Oct. 26.
The report said the 58-year-old prelate was taken by authorities “on vacation,” adding that 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.
“Pray that the Lord will give [Bishop Shao] confidence and courage, that he will not be disheartened by what has happened,” read a statement from Catholics in the diocese quoted by the AsiaNews report.
“Pray also that he remains healthy and refreshed, under the guidance of Christ, so that he will come back to us as soon as possible to pasture his flock,” it added.
The Vatican confirmed Bishop Shao to lead the diocese in September 2016, following the death of his predecessor, Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang, who was imprisoned for 16 years. At the time of his predecessor’s death, Zhumin was arrested by police and taken “on a trip,” according to the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need. He was then detained by authorities several times after that.
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.
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.
The “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, said AsiaNews. In recent years, authorities have blocked the entrance to the Wenzhou cemetery ahead of All Souls’ Day to prevent Catholics from gathering.
In Zhejiang, the percentage of Christians exceeds 10%, according to AsiaNews, and the faithful “are very zealous.”
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.
Image caption: St Paul’s Cathedral in Wenzhou. | 三猎 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0) (via CNA)
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