An 88-year-old underground Chinese bishop, who was arrested for refusing to join the state-approved Catholic Church, is feared dead as state officials urge the Vatican to recognize his assistant as a bishop in his place.
Bishop James Su Zhimin was last seen 17 years ago by a Catholic in a hospital in Baoding, Hebei province — six years after he was arrested for his refusal to join the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and charged with conducting “unregistered” religious activities.
Bishop Su’s nephew, Su Tianyou, told UCA News that the Chinese Communist Party had asked the Vatican to appoint Coadjutor Bishop Francis An Shuxin in his stead, leading some to believe Bishop Su is dead.
The outlet notes that Bishop An was Bishop Su’s assistant who was arrested in 1996 for his affiliation with the underground Catholic church. After remaining under house arrest for 10 years, Bishop An was released after agreeing to work for the CCPA.
However, Baoding’s underground church no longer recognizes him as their bishop, considering him a “traitor who left his faith to pursue a life of comfort,” according to UCA News.
Bishop Su was a member of the Church, in communion with Rome, and appointed a bishop by Pope St. John Paul II, but unrecognized by the Chinese government as a bishop.
According to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Human Rights Commission, Su spent four decades in prison “without charge, without trial.” Prior to his arrest in 1996, the Bishop was held off and on for 26 years either in prison or forced labor camps. To this day, attempts at memorializing him or holding public events in his honor “have met with hostile police action,” says HRC.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett