Bishop missing for over nine months

Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu
(Photo: ChinaAid source)




(Xinxiang, Henan province—March 2, 2022) Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of the diocese of Xinxiang, Henan province, has been in unlawful detainment for more than nine months. A Chinese believer told AsiaNews that their bishop is at an unknown place where he has been illegally detained for more than nine months. The believer expressed sympathy and concern for the life of Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of Xinxiang Diocese, Henan province. 

 

 

In accordance with Chinese law, persons without official charges may not be detained for more than three months, but the Chinese government has illegally detained Bishop Zhang Weizhu for more than nine months. According to AsiaNews, his family and members of his congregation do not know where he is being held and his current status. They’ve not even heard of charges against him. 

 

 

The report stated that there were claims of authorities allowing two people to visit the bishop around Chinese New Year, but it was only for a few minutes, and the police officers were present for the whole duration. Bishop Zhang is prohibited from returning home, not even for just a day during the festive period.   

 

 

Bishop Zhang disappeared on May 21, 2021, shortly after undergoing cancer surgery and returning from the hospital. In an operation targeting a seminary, local authorities dispatched 100 police officers from Cangzhou, Hejian, and Shaheqiao in Hebei province and arrested ten priests and ten seminarians. 

 

 

A few days later, the seminarians were sent home and barred from continuing their theology studies. After several “political studies sessions,” instilling in them the idea that they can enjoy “religious freedom” as long as they obey the Chinese Communist Party, the priests were sent back to their hometowns. However, Bishop Zhang continues to be “illegally” detained to this day. 

 

Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu, 63, was ordained bishop of Xinxiang, Henan in 1991. The diocese of Xinxiang has 100,000 believers and refused to join the government-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Bishop Zhang was recognized by the Holy See, but not by the Chinese government. He has been jailed several times.  

 

In February 2018, the Chinese government began the implementation of the Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs. The State Administration for Religious Affairs also implemented the Administrative Measures of Religious Personnel on May 1, 2021. These regulations were put in place to persecute religious believers. In compliance with these regulations, religious personnel need to listen and obey the Party in order to carry out their duties. Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu is a case of religious personnel who has fallen victim to the CCP’s regulations.  

 

~ Gao Zhensai ,Special Correspondent Gao Zhensai of ChinaAid  

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