10/27/2021 China (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on October 25, the authorities in China’s Wenzhou seized Bishop Shao Zhumin ahead of the month of the dead. He was officially detained to go on a forced “vacation,” a measure employed by the government to “educate” dissidents and religious clergy who fail to submit to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s control.
According to Asia News, sources on the ground relay that the bishop was officially taken away a few days before November, where many masses are celebrated for the dead, accompanied by meetings, rosaries, and prayers.
At this time every year, Catholics in Wenzhou march to the cemetery where Msgr. James Lin Xili, the first local bishop recognized by the Vatican, rests. In past years, authorities have blocked the entrance to Wenzhou's cemetery with iron barriers to prevent Catholics from gathering; this time, they directly took Bishop Shao away.
This was not the first time Bishop Shao disappeared from his parish. He has been repeatedly detained in the last few years, with the longest being seven-month. The authorities often put him under “thought transformation” process which lasts from 10 to 15 days, brainwashing him to join the state-vetted “official” Catholic Church. He never gives in.
His disappearance took place after the news of Vatican being pressured by China to sever ties with Taiwan was revealed and before President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican in late October.
Despite the signing of a Sino-Vatican deal on bishop appointment in 2018, religious freedom for Chinese Catholics has not improved. Priests and nuns not loyal to the CCP have been harassed, monitored, and detained; crosses and religious symbols have been removed from churches; impoverished Catholics were forced to renounce their faith in exchange of welfare benefits.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “The Vatican should stop believing the promises made by CCP and see to it that the deceitful authoritarian regime is not to be partnered with. The decades-long persecution of Chinese Catholics has not and will not stop simply because the Holy See and China have signed a provisional agreement on bishop appointment. Bishop Shao’s latest detention is living proof of that. It is time for Pope Francis to re-examine the Vatican’s approach with China and boldly speak out for the persecuted Chinese Christians.”