Photo: Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou Diocese, member of the “underground” church (ChinaAid source)
(Zhejiang – February 18, 2023) Peter Shao Zhumin, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wenzhou, was taken away again. So far, there has been no news indicating that he has been released.
Bishop Shao’s recent arrest
On February 2, 2023, AsiaNews reported that sources from the ground informed the news agency that the authorities took Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of the Wenzhou diocese and his secretary, Fr. Paolo Jiang Sunian. Police attempted to prevent them from attending the funeral of the “underground” clergyman Fr. Leo Chen Nailiang.
Father Leo Chen Nailiang
Fr. Leo Chen Nailiang belonged to the “underground” church loyal to the Holy See, just like Bishop Shao. He served as the priest of Pingyang parish in Wenzhou and was deeply loved by the congregation. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) persecuted him since he joined the Catholic Church in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They once sent him to a labor camp for several years for “re-education.”
No one allowed at the funeral
After Fr. Leo Chen Nailiang passed away, the authorities banned all “underground” faithful from attending his funeral and celebration Mass; the latter was presided over by three priests from the parish of Rui’an.
Authorities’ history with Bishop Shao
Police followed Bishop Shao long term because he consistently refused to join the “official” Catholic Patriotic Association. He obeyed the orders of the Holy See and was recognized by the Pope but was not recognized by the Communist Party.
Bishop Shao was often subjected to political brainwashing by the communist regime, which aimed to force him to join the “official” Church controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. However, he still refused.
Prevented from joining Holy Week services
Police arrested and detained Bishop Shao several times. According to reports, the most recent occurrence was on April 7, 2022, when authorities flew him elsewhere to prevent him from celebrating the Catholic Holy Week Services.
Previously, on October 25, 2021, the police detained him on the grounds of “tourism” and released him about two weeks later.
Taken on a “trip”
In Bishop Shao’s case, being taken on a “trip” is essentially forced kidnapping. He had been arrested five times before being taken on a “trip” in November 2018. In 2017, the Vatican issued a rare statement, stating that the Pope was “very worried” about this and that the Holy See was “deeply saddened.”
Local authorities in Wenzhou have adopted similar controls on the funerals of clergy members. The police took Bishop Shao and Fr. Jiang on a “trip” between August 23 and October 8, 2016, to prevent them from attending the funeral of the former Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang of the Wenzhou diocese.
The Holy See and Beijing renewed the 2018 agreement on the appointment of Vatican bishops in October 2020 and October 2022, but the government continues to crack down on Chinese Catholics, especially members of the “underground” Church.
~Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid