In what is a regular but rarely reported occurrence for clergy in Communist China, a Catholic bishop was kidnapped by the police last Friday for a so-called "vacation period," a time during which he will be subjected to interrogation and indoctrination by government authorities, reported Asia News on Nov. 9.
"The bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang), Msgr. Pietro Shao Zhumin, was kidnapped by police this morning at 9 and will be kept away from the diocese for '10 or 15 days,'" said the publication on Friday. "Usually such forced seizures are defined by the police as 'vacation periods.' They are actually periods of interrogation and indoctrination."
Shao Zhumin is a bishop faithful to the Catholic Church in Rome. He is part of the valid, "underground" church in China and is not a part of the government-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA). The CPA was created in 1957 to counter the underground church, which formed in 1950 after the Communists and dictator Mao Zedong seized control of China.
"As an 'underground' bishop, in the periods of kidnapping he [Bishop Shao] is coerced to submit to the religious policy of China, which requires registration with the government and membership of the Patriotic Association (PA)," reported Asia News. "But membership of these bodies implies adhering to the project of an 'independent' Church [from the Holy See], which Msgr. Shao refuses."
Bishop Shao has been kidnapped by the police at least 5 times over the last two years, said Asia News. "The last time was in May 2017," when he was held for 7 months of indoctrination.
Although the Vatican recently signed a deal that allows the CPA to nominate bishops for the Catholic Church in China -- the Pope has a veto -- the CPA "has stepped up controls and the persecution of underground communities," reported Asia News, and has stressed that the church is independnet of Rome despite the agreement.
In Bishop Shao's diocese there are an estimated 130,000 Catholics, of which 80,000 belong to the underground church. People under 18 years of age are forbidden by Communist authorities to attend Mass or to partake in religious instruction in the diocese.
Since the Communist takeover in China in 1949-50, more than 65 million Chinese have been killed as a consequence of political terror and Marxist policies, which produced famines and other problems. Political labor camps, the laogai, are in operation in China today as is a two-child policy, which can lead to forced abortions and sterilizations.
For more on the laogai, click here.