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China subjects Catholic bishops, priests to 'political sessions'

Catholic World News - April 17, 2012

Two Chinese bishops of the “underground” Church have been released by police after having been held for “political sessions” in which they were pressured to cooperate with the Catholic Patriotic Association. The AsiaNews service reports that dozens of priests are being temporarily detained to attend similar sessions.

Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, coadjutor of the Wenzhou diocese, had been arrested and held for 4 weeks. During that time he was allowed to visit Lei Shiyin, a bishop who was ordained last July without permission from the Vatican and consequently excommunicated; Chinese authorities clearly were holding up Bishop Lei as a model for Bishop Shao to emulate.

Bishop Peter Jing Lugang Nanyang of Henan was taken into custody on Holy Thursday and released on Easter Sunday—too late to lead his diocese in the liturgical ceremonies of the Easter Triduum. Government officials told him during his “holiday” that he should join the Patriotic Association.

A recent rise in the number of bishops and priests subjected to these “political sessions” has been interpreted by Chinese Catholics as a move by the government to encourage loyalty to the Patriotic Association in advance of the Communist Party Congress that will be held in October. The Chinese government has established a pattern of cracking down on ideological enemies in advance of major Party meetings.

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