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Most 'Patriotic' Chinese bishops approved by Rome

About two-thirds of the bishops of China's state-sanctioned Catholic Church are recognised by the Holy See, according to an article in the Italian Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica.

The observation was contained in an article by Fr Benoit Vermander, the Jesuit director of the Ricci Institute in Taiwan.

Civilta Cattolic are generally understood to express the views of the Vatican, as the magazine's contents are approved in advance by the Secretariat of State.

Fr Vermander said that although China's 12 to 15 million Catholics are divided into the "official" and "underground" Churches, there is considerable overlap.

He said that of the 79 bishops serving the "official" Church, 49 have at least de facto recognition from the Vatican. Additionally all 49 bishops of the "underground" Church are approved by the Vatican.

Fr Vermander advised that all statistics regarding religious practice in China should "always be taken with precaution."

Meanwhile UCA News report that an "underground" bishop in northeastern China has been in detention since Friday when he was taken into custody along with his driver and two foreign Church visitors.

Bishop Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar was arrested on his return from the Harbin airport after picking up the two foreign visitors, an underground priest in eastern China told UCA News.

He believes the bishop's detention is related to the current sessions of the 10th National People's Congress, China's highest organ of State power, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a consultative body of the Communist Party of China.

Bishop Wei, 45, was consecrated coadjutor bishop of Qiqihar in 1995 and later succeeded retired underground Bishop Guo Wenzhi as head of the diocese.

Most "Patriotic" Chinese bishops approved by Rome (Catholic World News 5/3/04)
'Underground' Bishop Detained With Driver And Foreign Church Visitors (UCAN 9/3/04)

China arrests underground bishop (ABC/AFP 10/3/04)
China 'arrests Catholic bishop' (The Australian 9/3/04)
Report: China Arrests Roman Catholic Bishop (The Guardian/Associated Press 9/3/04)
Catholic Bishop Arrested in China Remains in Custody (Voice of America 9/3/04)

10 Mar 2004