Catholics in China’s Hebei province have issued a plea to the government for the release of Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding, who has been jailed since 1996.
After China’s President Xi Jinping announced an amnesty for elderly prisoners, Catholics in Hebei signed a petition calling for the release of Bishop Su, who is now 82 years old.
Bishop Su was arrested in 1996, after he steadfastly refused to join the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association. He escaped in April 1996 and remained in hiding until he was re-arrested in October 1997. Since that time he has not been seen in public—although acquaintances reported that they had spotted him in a hospital in 2003, under heavy guard, apparently being treated for a heart ailment.
In 2010, the Patriotic Association installed Bishop Francis An Shuxin to replace Bishop Su in the Baoding diocese. The Vatican refused to approve the appointment.