Chinese authorities release bishop loyal to Rome
Underground Chinese Bishop, Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, was released from prison by the Chinese authorities on Wednesday after 15 months in detention according to the Cardinal Kung Foundation.
The 75-year-old bishop, who is loyal to the Holy See, celebrated an evening Mass for his flock immediately on his return to Christ the King Cathedral in Wuqiu village, near Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province.
He underlined that he had not accepted the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, nor the authority of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, which are government-approved church bodies.
In a press release issued by the US-based Cardinal Kung Foundation, Bishop Jia emphasised that “he was and always would be firmly adhered to the leadership of the Holy Father.”
Bishop Jia was removed by government officials 30 March 2009, the day the Vatican’s China Commission began its plenary meeting in Rome.
After the meeting, the commission issued a statement voicing its concern for the prominent bishop.
Throughout his detention, his family had campaigned vigorously for his release.
Two other Hebei prelates – Bishops James Su Zhemin of Baoding and Cosmas Shi Enxiang of Yixian – have been held in detention since 1997 and 2001, respectively. Their whereabouts have been unknown for years.
Meanwhile two members of the underground church are reported to have been murdered in their place of work.
Fr Joseph Zhang Shulai, the vicar general of the underground Church in the Diocese of Ningxia, and Sr Mary Wei Yanhui, were murdered at the nursing home where they worked in Wuhai, a city of 430,000 in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.
A Catholic layman is suspected in the murders, according to Church sources.