China frees elderly bishop

 The Chinese government released 80 year-old Bishop Thomas Zeng Jingmu from prison on Tuesday. Bishop Zeng was arrested in his town, Hangpu, in the southeastern province of Jiangxi on 14 September. He was taken by force to the local prison of Linchuan. Every three days, members of the Patriotic Association, the Communist Party-controlled official church, read him the ruling on freedom of worship in China. The bishop has been banned from speaking with foreigners. Auxiliary Bishop Deng Hui and Fr Liao Haiqing are still in prison. They were arrested at the same time as Bishop Zeng for refusing to register in the Patriotic Association. Bishop Zeng has spent more than 30 years in prison: from 1958-1976, 1981-1989 and 1994 to 1998. In Hong Kong on Sunday, more than 1,200 people attended a solemn Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in honour of the 120 Chinese martyrs canonised by John Paul II. Cardinal John Baptist Wu Cheng-Chung concelebrated Bishop Joseph Zen, Auxiliary Bishop John Tong and Abbot Clement Kong, of Our Lady of Joy Trappist Monastery at Lantau, according to the Vatican agency Fides. Beijing advised the Hong Kong diocese to keep celebrations for the canonization 'low-key'. During his homily, Father Francis Li from Taiyuan, a direct descendant of two of the martyrs, thanked the government for its criticism, which served to give great publicity to the canonization. "This caused everyone in Hong Kong, and in the whole world, to become aware that the Catholic Church was holding a canonization ceremony," he said. "Curiosity was aroused among those who heard the news, and they asked questions like: What is a canonization? Who are the people being canonised? Why are they being canonised? And why are people opposed to their being canonised?" The liturgy closed with a solemn procession to place the martyrs' relics in the Chapel of the Passion in the cathedral.

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