China releases Catholic bishop after 10 years
By Richard Spencer, LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH
BEIJING, Aug. 28, 2006 (www.washtimes.com) -- A Roman Catholic bishop held in jail by the Chinese authorities for more than 10 years has been released, support groups overseas say, raising hopes for reconciliation talks between Beijing and the Vatican.
An Shuxin, an auxiliary bishop in Hebei province in northern China, was detained in 1996. Since then, as with several other bishops appointed by the pope without Beijing's approval, no news had been released about where he was being held or his condition.
The Vatican and the Communist government in Beijing do not recognize each other, but there have been on-off negotiations between the two sides since shortly before the death of Pope John Paul II last year.
"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 authorities across China," the Cardinal Kung Foundation, a U.S.-based support group, said.
Hebei has the highest concentration of Roman Catholics in China and is feared by the Chinese government for that reason.
Bishop An was one of seven bishops in the province imprisoned for refusing to register with the official Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. He ran an underground seminary in Baoding, a city a few hours' drive south of Beijing, where he was detained in May 1996.