The bishop of Wenzhou Diocese, detained repeatedly for refusing to join the Patriotic Catholic Church, is under surveillance, forbidden to hold religious activities.
by Lin Yijiang
October 4, this year, marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Lin Xili, the former Bishop of Wenzhou. The late bishop spent 16 years in labor camps for his faith, and a few years before his death, though ill and unable to move, he was under constant police surveillance.
Days before the anniversary, in late September, the Religious Affairs Bureau of Wenzhou city in the eastern province of Zhejiang dispatched national security personnel to take in the current Bishop of Wenzhou Diocese, Msgr. Shao Zhumin, for forced indoctrination.
After the bishop was taken away, officials prohibited the person in charge of the local Catholic church to pay homage to Bishop Lin Xili because he “was an illegal bishop who was not recognized by the government.” Any commemorative activities at the bishop’s tomb were prohibited; if the orders were not followed, the tomb would be destroyed, the officials threatened.
On October 4, over 500 law enforcement officers cordoned off the roads leading to Bishop Lin Xili’s tomb. Personnel were sent to keep watch inside the churches of surrounding areas to prevent congregations from holding Mass.
According to a local Catholic, Bishop Shao was not allowed to go back home until October 8.
This is not the first time that Bishop Shao has been taken away by the authorities. Two months after the Vatican-China Deal of 2018 was signed, on November 9, he was kidnapped by the police and indoctrinated in isolation for over ten days. Such kidnapping operations are often called “vacation periods” by the government.
Before the kidnapping in November 2018, Bishop Shao Zhumin had been arrested for at least five times. His detention in 2017 lasted for seven months, and the Vatican released a rare statement to express the Pope’s “grave concerns,” stating that the Holy See was “profoundly saddened.”
“The CCP always fears that its regime would not stay stable, and the government lives in a state of extreme panic. That’s why it desperately cracks down on religions. It is, in essence, the devil,” commented a local clergy member who requested anonymity.
Several months before Bishop Shao was taken in, the local Religious Affairs Bureau forbade him to leave Wenzhou city and had a tracker installed in his car to monitor him. The CCP also pressured him to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
In July, water and electricity supply to the Wenzhou Diocese church was cut off, and its doors were sealed. The local government ordered Bishop Shao not to organize any gatherings unless the church joins the CPCA.
In early September, officials from the local Religious Affairs Bureau announced that they were planning to establish an administrative committee for the Wenzhou Diocese’s Catholic Church and proposed Bishop Shao to become its director, attempting to entice him into signing the agreement to join the CPCA. Bishop Shao firmly rejected it.
A priest from the diocese commented that the administrative committee and the CPCA are of the same nature – both are controlled by the CCP. He added that Bishop Shao would by no means lead the Catholic conscientious objectors to join it.
“By making us join the CPCA, the government is playing a vicious trick. Once we take a step into it, we’ll ultimately have to follow the government’s orders. It will use various regulations, rules, and policies to control us. Not only will we be deprived of our freedom, but our faith will degenerate in nature,” the priest said. “The government intends to transform us into ‘sinicized Christians’ who obey the Communist Party, and eventually eradicate our faith.”