Bishop detained over two years for challenging CCP ordinations

(Xuanhua, Hebei province—May 17, 2023) Bishop Simone Zhang Jianlin has been detained for more than two years for challenging illegitimate ordinations. His family hopes Chinese authorities will release him on humanitarian grounds to care for his 90-year-old elderly mother.


Detained multiple times

According to AsiaNews, Simone Zhang Jianlin, vicar of the diocese of Xuanhua in Hebei province, has been detained since 2021. This is not the first time the bishop has been taken. The Chinese government detained him in 2009. Police also placed him under house arrest for two weeks in January 2019. Two months later, Bishop Zhang was arrested along with Bishop Augustine Cui Tai.


Since the spring of 2021, Bishop Cui has been forcibly disappeared and deprived of his freedom. Meanwhile, Bishop Zhang has been held in secret detention since April 2021.



Reason for Bishop Zhang’s Arrest

The Communist Party arrested Bishop Zhang because of his criticism of their illegal ordinations. On May 11, 2021, Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai of the Chengde diocese went to the Xuanhua diocese to ordain three priests and a deacon. These ordinations were for the “diocese of Zhangjiakou” and violated Church discipline. Its jurisdiction belongs to the dioceses of Xuanhua and Xiwanzi, which did not permit the ordination.



The Diocese of Zhangjiakou

The so-called “diocese of Zhangjiakou” is divisive. CCP officials recognize it under the official Chinese Catholic Church, but the Holy See does not. The ordination ceremony held on May 11 was “illegal” and not recognized by the Catholic Code of Canon Law.



A hasty ceremony

According to some local sources, Father Wang Zhengui carried out the ceremony because the Beijing Winter Olympics would be held in Zhangjiakou. He hoped it would benefit him personally and make him the bishop of the “diocese of Zhangjiakou.” AsiaNews sources reported that the illegal ordination seriously disrupted the administration of the Xuanhua and Xiwanzi dioceses.


Zhang’s letter

Bishop Simone Zhang Jianlin cited Cardinal Filoni’s letter and the Canon of Catholic Law to illustrate the Xuanhua diocese’s position. “We have no intention of blaming and punishing anyone,” he wrote. “We would like to clarify our position according to the law, and relevant articles of the Catholic Code of Canon Law[.]”



After he made his case in April, authorities detained Bishop Zhang. He has not been released since. His 90-year-old mother is frail and. Zhang’s mother is usually looked after by her equally frail and ill daughter.



Appeal to the authorities

Local faithful appealed that the Chinese authorities should release monsignor Zhang as soon as possible on humanitarian grounds. Bishop Zhang’s family also eagerly hoped that he could go home to take care of his elderly and sick mother.



~Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid



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