China releases kidnapped Catholic bishop
A Vatican-approved bishop in China who was kidnapped by Chinese authorities following an arrest on the 25th of October has been released and has returned to his diocese. The bishop’s name is Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, and he heads the Yongjia (Wenzhou) Diocese in Zhejiang province in eastern China.
Bishop Shao, a Vatican-approved bishop who was ordained by papal mandate in 2011, has a record of arrests, having been arrested six times already prior to his arrest on the 25th of October. The arrests are primarily due to Shao’s unwillingness to cooperate with state-sanctioned Catholic bodies such as the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA).
It is commonplace in China for Catholic leaders who fail to cooperate with the government to be arrested and detained. Besides Bishop Zhao, there is also the case of Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of Xinxiang in Henan province, who was arrested in May along with many priests and seminarians, and whose whereabouts remain unknown.
Bishop Shao’s arrest and release comes amid Pope Francis and the Vatican’s recent attempts to dialogue diplomatically with China, marking a hopeful sign for Catholics in China who face persecution. Please pray for the Catholic church in China, that laity and clergy may continue to witness to Christ and worship despite—or without—persecution.