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China: Catholic Bishop under pressure to join State Church
An underground Catholic bishop is thought to be on the run from Chinese security agents after refusing to sign up to a government sanctioned 'independent church'.
The country is home to around 12 million Catholics - split between the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (PA) and an underground church loyal to the Vatican.
According to Catholic Asia News, Msgr Vincenzo Guo Xijin was held in custody by state agents and blackmailed to join an independent church in exchange for government recognition, without which his ministry would be forbidden.
Underground Catholics contest the "independence" of these state churches and their detachment from the Holy See and the universal Church.
Msgr Guo fled from police custody last week and maintains his refusal to a forced membership to the PA.
Previously, Msgr Guo was the ordinary bishop of the Diocese of Mindong, recognized by the Holy See, but not by the government.
After the Vatican signed a deal with Beijing last year which allowed both parties as say in the ordination of bishops, Msgr Guo accepted a demotion to auxiliary bishop.
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