.- After more than a decade, Chinese authorities have released a bishop who was ordained to serve the country’s underground Roman Catholic Church.
Bishop An Shuxin, the auxiliary bishop of the underground Diocese of Baoding, in Hebei Province, was released yesterday after more than 10 years in prison, the Cardinal Kung Foundation reported on Friday.
He was arrested in May 1996 and has previously been seen only once, when he visited his elderly mother for a few hours on the Chinese New Year in 2000.
The 57-year-old bishop was given a work permit as a Roman Catholic bishop in China and has the permission from the Chinese government to do pastoral work. He has not registered with the Patriotic Association and remains under surveillance, the foundation reported.
“We hope that this release is not an isolated case, but rather the beginning of the release of many dozens of other Roman Catholic bishops, priests, and faithful currently being jailed by the Chinese authorities across China,” said foundation president Joseph Kung.
Kung said there are six more bishops in prison. All other underground bishops are under surveillance, under house arrest, or hiding.
The release of other jailed clerics, “would show China's sincerity about improving its relationships with the Vatican and its human rights policy," said Kung.
The six bishops who are currently imprisoned include: Bishop Su Zhimin, 74, arrested in 1997; Bishop Han Dingxiang, 69, arrested in 1999; Bishop Jia Zhiguo, 72, who has been arrested 9 times since January 2004; Bishop Shi Enxiang, 84, arrested in 2001; Bishop Zhao Zhendong, 86, arrested in 2004; and Bishop Yao Liang, 83, arrested for a second time this past July. The whereabouts for the first five bishops remain unknown.