Another Chinese bishop released

Chinese authorities this week released another "underground" bishop who has been under arrest and in home detention for most of the last two years and who has spent a total of twenty years in prison.

AsiaNews reports that Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, unofficial bishop of Zhengding (Hebei) has been home since yesterday afternoon and is being allowed to meet his priests. Local sources said his release was due to "prayers and denunciations through the media".

He had been held for more than 10 months in police custody for "study sessions".

According to AsiaNews sources, he has returned to his residence and is enjoying full freedom, so much so, he has been able to receive visits from priests of his diocese. In the past, the bishop was submitted to complete isolation although he was at home.

The bishop was arrested on 8 November 2005 for the eighth time since 2004. According to local sources, throughout his latest detention, the bishop was again submitted to interrogations and pressure to adhere to the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association.

Although some news agencies had reported that the bishop had been freed in May, AsiaNews says that Bishop Jia had in fact merely been hospitalised in Hebei where he remained under watch by six policemen day and night.

Mgr Jia, 70, leads one of the most animated dioceses in Hebei, the region with the highest concentration of Catholics with around one and a half million believers.

Since he is not recognised by the government, he cannot exercise his ministry.

AsiaNews says that before significant religious feasts (Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, Assumption), he is seized and forced to submit to indoctrination, to prevent celebrations and gatherings among underground Christians.

At times, when important meetings of the Party take place, or when foreign heads of state or personalities visit, he is segregated in unknown places, the report continued.

Mgr Jia Zhiguo, underground bishop of Zhengding, released after 10 months (Asia News, 26/9/06)

Released Chinese bishop seeks reconciliation (13/9/06)
Chinese bishop released after 10 years in prison (CathNews, 28/8/06)
Holy See sends envoys to Beijing for secret talks (CathNews, 19/6/06)
China's first Catholic non-profit approved but arrests continue (CathNews, 4/8/06)
Pope declares diplomatic war with China (CathNews, 5/5/06)

28 Sep 2006