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Police seize Chinese bishop who was asked to stand aside by Vatican

Bishop Guo

One of the Chinese ‘underground’ bishops who was asked by a Vatican delegation to stand aside for a government-backed prelate has been “kidnapped” by police.

Asia News, the outlet of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, reports that Bishop Vincent Guo Xijin of Mindong was taken, along with the diocesan chancellor, after refusing to concelebrate Mass with the government-backed bishop.

Bishop Guo, who is recognised by the Vatican but not by the Chinese government, had recently been asked to make way for excommunicated bishop Vincent Zhan Silu. A Vatican delegation asked Bishop Guo to accept the position of auxiliary bishop under Bishop Zhan as part of a rumoured deal between the Holy See and Beijng.

However, the Office for Religious Affairs reportedly summoned Bishop Guo to a meeting on Monday afternoon, after which he returned to his residence and packed luggage. He was then taken away at 10pm.

The bishop had been held in police custody for 20 days during the Easter season last year.

Chinese Catholics are currently split between those in the ‘underground’ Church who remain loyal to Rome, and those in the Catholic Patriotic Association, which is backed by the government.

The CPA has ordained several bishops without Vatican approval, causing them to be automatically excommunicated. A rumoured deal between Beijing and the Holy See would address the appointment of bishops, a lead to excommunicated bishops being reconciled with the Pope.

It is not yet known if Bishop Zhan’s excommunication has been lifted.