- Nov 28, 2020
Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou has been released by Chinese authorities after being detained for more than seven months.
While the Chinese government technically recognizes Catholicism as one of five religions in the country, it does not recognize many Church leaders appointed by the Vatican, driving many among the Catholic Church leadership and laity underground. Since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, he has sought to tighten the government’s control over religious organizations.
In a long interview with La Civilta Cattolica, the Jesuit journal reviewed at the Vatican prior to publication, Jesuit Father Joseph Shih pleaded with outsiders to stop describing Catholicism in China as consisting of two churches, one that accepts government control and the other that doesn’t and so exists clandestinely.
Tensions in Vatican-China relations have increased after a bishop was placed in government custody prohibiting him from assuming leadership of his diocese. Vatican spokesmen have said that such episodes do not foster the kind of understanding that the Church wants to reach with the Chinese government.
German ambassador Michael Clauss asked the Chinese government to release a Catholic bishop who has been held in confinement since his appointment last year. The incident marks yet another example of existing tensions between the Vatican and China when it comes to appointing bishops.