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Report: Chinese Bishop Freed from Police Custody

An elderly bishop belonging to China's underground Roman Catholic Church has been released after spending more than 10 months in police custody, a Vatican-affiliated news agency reported Tuesday.
( [email protected] ) Sep 27, 2006 11:24 AM EDT

VATICAN CITY (AP) - An elderly bishop belonging to China's underground Roman Catholic Church has been released after spending more than 10 months in police custody, a Vatican-affiliated news agency reported Tuesday.

Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, 70, returned to his home in the northern city of Zhengding, where priests of his diocese could visit him, said AsiaNews, a missionary news service close to the Vatican.

But Chinese officials at the Zhengding detention center said they were unaware of Jia's case.

Government agents seized Jia on Nov. 8, arresting him for the eighth time in two years. AsiaNews reported that during his latest detention the bishop was interrogated and pressured to adhere to the Communist Party-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association, which rejects Vatican authority over issues such as the naming of bishops.

China, which broke ties with the Vatican in 1951, demands that Catholics worship only in churches approved by the state-controlled group, which does not recognize the pope's authority.

Worship is allowed only in government-controlled churches, which recognize the pope as a spiritual leader but appoint their own priests and bishops.

Many Chinese Catholics, however, remain loyal to the Vatican and risk arrest by worshipping in unofficial churches and private homes. They are frequently harassed, fined and sometimes sent to labor camps.

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