China releases bishop after 30 months

18 Feb 2009

By The Record

XIWANZI, China – Auxiliary Bishop Leo Yao Liang of Xiwanzi was released after being detained since July 2006, but Chinese authorities warned him not to exercise his episcopal authority or preside at large-scale church activities.

Bishop Leo Yao Liang

Bishop Yao was detained in part for consecrating a large new church in Guyuan county in 2006, the Asian church news agency UCA News reported on February 13.
Sources who visited the 85-year-old bishop upon hearing of his release on January 25 told UCA News that his health and physical condition seemed "quite good."
Public security officers sent the bishop back to his church in Xiwanzi, in northern Hebei province.
A source said officers informed a few parish workers in advance about Bishop Yao’s release but forbade them to hold any welcome gathering.
The source quoted Bishop Yao as saying officers treated him well during his 30-month detention in different locations, although he was forbidden to contact anybody.
Bishop Yao, who is not registered with the government and whom the government recognises only as a priest, said laypeople are free to visit him, although he thinks public security officers will keep an eye on him. He is not allowed to travel outside his parish area, UCA News reported. China requires that church leaders be registered with the government. Unregistered priests must concelebrate Mass with a registered bishop.
Registered church officials must profess support for the "independent, autonomous and self-management" principle that the government insists on for the church. Because of this, some bishops and priests have refused to register.
Bishop Yao has been detained several times by public security officers since he was ordained clandestinely as a bishop in 2002.