04/11/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – As Easter is around the corner, the authorities in China’s Zhejiang province are again targeting Catholic clergy that is not sanctioned by the Chinese government.
On April 7, Bishop Shao Zhumin of Zhejiang was taken away and put on a plane to an unknown location by the police. Just last October, he was detained and forced to go on a “vacation” ahead of the month of the dead. Bishop Shao was not able to return to his diocese until mid-November.
According to Asia News, the local Catholics are worried because they do not know where their priest is at the moment; police have also reportedly commandeered his cell phone. The suspicion is that the government wanted to prevent him from celebrating the functions of Holy Week, especially the Chrism Mass.
The authorities had also arrested the secretary of the diocese, Father Jiang Sunian, who is also not unfamiliar with the repeated detention by the government, but he has since returned.
Bishop Zhao has been detained time and again in the last few years, with the longest being seven-month, for his refusal to join the government-vetted “official” Catholic Church. The authorities often put him under a “thought transformation” process which lasts from 10 to 15 days in an attempt to brainwash him.
Despite the inkling of a Sino-Vatican deal on bishop appointment in 2018 and a renewal in 2020, Catholic clergy in China who pledge their allegiance to the Vatican continue to face harassment and enforced disappearance. The authorities seized more than 10 Catholic leaders, including Bishop Augustine Cui Tai (under house arrest for more than 10 years) and his deputy Zhang Jianlin from the diocese of Xuanhua (Hebei) in January. Their whereabouts remain unknown.