Chinese Catholic bishop detained indefinitely

Discussion in 'Asia' started by kazenatsu, Jul 10, 2021.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    May 15, 2017
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    James Su Zhimin was a Catholic Bishop in the city of Baoding, H e bei province, China.
    He had not been legally registered as a Bishop with the Chinese.

    In 1996, he was arrested during a religious procession, for conducting unregistered religious activities. His family did not get to see him and was not told where he was being kept. He was never publicly officially charged with a crime.

    November 2003, by chance, his family was able to discover him at a hospital in Baoding, surrounded by police and public security.
    He has not been heard or seen from since, despite repeated international inquiries.

    In total, he has spent 40 years in prison, without charge, and without trial.

    Before being arrested in 1996, Su Zhimin was held off and on for 26 years either in prison or forced labor camps. The Chinese government deemed him as "counterrevolutionary" because, since the 1950s, he had refused to join the Patriotic Association, the national Chinese Catholic Church which has detached themselves from the Pope's authority.

    Attempts at memorializing the bishop, or holding public events in his honor, have met with hostile police action.

    In 2015, James Su Zhimin's nephew, Su Tianyou, appealed for information about his uncle's whereabouts from religious affairs official, named Guo Wei, who was involved in China-Vatican negotiations. Guo told him to wait for an improvement in China-Vatican relations before Bishop Su could be released.

    The state authorities have never recognized Bishop Su Zhimin, who fiercely defended the underground church loyal to the Vatican. Instead, they considered Bishop An, his assistant, as the bishop of Baoding.

    Bishop An, originally belonged to the underground church, and in 1993 he was secretly ordained as auxiliary bishop. In 1996, he was detained by authorities and under house arrest for 10 years until he was released in 2006.
    Since then, he has been working openly and became vice-chairman of the local CCPA (Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, approved by the Chinese government). The state-sectioned church installed him as the bishop of Baoding in 2010, with state authorities recognizing his position, though some local Catholics refuse to recognize him as the legitimate Bishop.

    Su Tianyou said the move was part of a plan to make the local Church submissive. Bishop An will unquestionably toe the government line, leaving the local Church wholly under the state.

    Bishop An said that when he was released he asked local provincial authorities where Su Zhimin was but he was told they had no idea. Bishop An then, while attending a meeting with officials at the National Religious Affairs Administration in Beijing, asked them where Su Zhimin was but was told by a senior official that "It is not a matter that we can resolve. It's up to the central government and the Vatican."

    Born in 1932, Su Zhimin was arrested a total of eight times, imprisoned, put under house arrest or put through labor camps for more than 30 years. He was ordained a priest in 1981 and appointed bishop of Baoding in 1992.
    Su Tianyou said he believes Su Zhimin may be dead now.

    Bishop James Su Zhimin | Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (
    Religious Freedom in China: The Case of Bishop James Su Zhimin | Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (

    Congressional hearing on Bishop Su Zhimin and Religious and Human Rights in China
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2021
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