June 2017: Catholics in China were praying for their new bishop, who – at the time of writing – was being held at an unknown location after the authorities prevented him from being installed.
Peter Shao Zhumin, 54, had been appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Wenzhou, with automatic right of succession. But, when Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang died in September 2016, the authorities arrested Bishop Zhumin and took him on “a trip”, releasing him a month later. Re-arrested briefly over Easter, Bishop Zhumin disappeared for a fourth time in May.
A month later, a Catholic spotted him at an airport in Wenzhou but police minders took him away to an unknown location. As an ‘Underground’ Catholic Bishop, the prelate heads a community not recognised by the state.
Catholics in Wenzhou, which is in China’s south-eastern Zhejiang province, are split on the question of government influence over the Church. On 26th June 2016, Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, stated: “The Holy See is following with grave concern the personal situation of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, forcibly removed from his episcopal see some time ago.”