A Catholic Bishop has disappeared in China and news reports in Asia suggest he has been kidnapped by the Chinese government and sent on a compulsary vacation.
Bishop Shao Zhumin has resisted pressure to join the state registered church which is regulated by the Chinese Communist Party. As a result, although appointed as Bishop of Wenzhou by the Catholic Church in Rome, he has been subject to harrassment and legal action by the Chinese authorities.
Shao Zhumin's detention was first reported by the Catholic website Asia News. The website quoted a request from Chinese Catholics for people to pray for the bishop's quick release.
"Pray that the Lord will give him confidence and courage, that he will not be demoralized by what happened; pray also that he will remain healthy and whole, under the guidance of Christ, so that he may return to us as soon as possible to shepherd his flock; let us pray together."
In the Catholic Church, the month of November is a time when prayers are offered in memory of the deceased. There is speculation the Chinese government is keen to clamp down on the underground Catholic Church in the lead-up to All Souls' Day on 2nd November and this may have triggered the Bishop's disappearance.
Diplomatic negotiations between the Vatican and the Chinese Government resulted in the Sino-Vatican Agreement on the Appointment of Bishops in 2018 which was renewed in 2020. It allows the Pope to veto the appointment of bishops recommended by the Chinese Communist Party. But the continued harrassment of 'underground' Catholics in China has led to criticism of Pope Francis for making the agreement with Beijing.