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WENZHOU, China (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Chinese bishop defying the China-Vatican accord is being closely monitored by communist authorities and is forbidden from leading religious services.
Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of the Wenzhou diocese was shipped off to forced indoctrination in September, Bitter Winter reported Sunday. He was not allowed back out until October 8. The Chinese bishop remains under close surveillance from the police and is prohibited from leading religious activities.
Defiant of the communist government, Bp. Shao Zhumin has been arrested and imprisoned many times in recent years.
October 5 this year was the 10th anniversary of the death of Bp. Lin Xili, a previous leader of the Wenzhou diocese. Bishop Xili spent 16 years in labor camps, and in his final years was under high levels of surveillance by the authorities.
After Bp. Shao Zumin was shipped away, communist authorities told him he was prohibited from paying homage to his late predecessor. They threatened to destroy Bp. Xili's tomb if there were any ceremonies commemorating him.
On Oct. 4, hundreds of law enforcement officers blocked off the roads around Bp. Xili's tomb to prevent commemorations by the faithful. Some were sent to nearby churches to make sure there were no Masses honoring the late bishop.
An anonymous Chinese priest commented to Bitter Winter, "The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] 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."
Catholicism in China is split between the government-approved Church and the underground Church. The government-approved portion is tied to the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA).
A secretive agreement in 2018 between Beijing and the Vatican sought to unite the underground Church with the CPCA. But some Catholics are resisting the arrangement because they refuse to place themselves in the hands of the communist government.
Many Catholics believe that being under the government's authority will only increase persecution. For instance, a priest from the Wenzhou diocese told Bitter Winter:
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.
Catholics around the world have been critical of the China-Vatican accord, accusing Church leaders of kowtowing to China's communist regime.
One of the accord's most outspoken critics is Cdl. Joseph Zen of Hong Kong.
For example, when the Vatican put out guidelines in late June for clergy in China, Cdl. Zen blasted the guidelines, saying, "This document has radically turned upside what is normal and what is abnormal, what is rightful and what is pitiable."
In like manner, Cdl. Zen commented in September, "Rome no longer dares to criticize the Chinese government, to which it has sold off the Chinese Church."
The Vatican hoped the agreement with China would lessen the persecution that China's Catholics have to face. But some say the persecution has only ramped up in the accord's aftermath.