Catholic Bishop Pietro Shao Zhumin, has reportedly been detained by the Chinese government over his refusal to join the China’s Communist Party-controlled church body.
The Catholic Bishop who was appointed by the pope in 2016 and posted to the southeastern city of Wenzhou, which has a large Christian community, and disappearance is linked to a breakthrough agreement to give Chinese authority a say over the appointment of bishops that critics called a cave-in to the ruling party just as it is waging a sweeping crackdown on religion.
While the Vatican has long hoped to bring together China’s 12 million Catholics who are divided between those worshipping in state-sanctioned churches and the underground priests and parishioners loyal to the pope, who are frequently detained and harassed, details of the September agreement has however not been released.
Analysts however allege that the Vatican will retain the power to put forward candidates, while Beijing will likely have the right to refuse them.
Catholic Bishop Pietro Shao Zhumin was reportedly dropped out of sight several days ago, but gave no details other than saying he had been subjected to “dozens of days of indoctrination as in the times of the Cultural Revolution,” a reference to Mao Zedong’s radical 1966-76 attack on traditional Chinese culture, religion and the intelligentsia.
Beijing’s assertion has however been that, it would not allow “foreign forces” to govern the country’s faith groups. Under president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, the authorities have in recent months cracked down heavily on Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and Buddhists in the name of national security and the “Sinosization” of religion.