The bishop of the underground church in Hebei (Xuanhua) province in China, who was temporarily released from detention in January, was again taken by police and sequestered on June 19.
A report from AsiaNews said Chinese authorities have detained Bishop Augustine Cui Tai at an undisclosed location.
The 70-year-old prelate was released to his family for the Chinese New Year on Jan. 24. He was able to remain with his family until June due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The six-month temporary freedom was the longest period that Bishop Cui Tai spent outside of detention since 2007 when the Chinese government first detained him without charges.
“It is a shame that such a sweet person like [Bishop Cui Tai] is treated in this way, even against Chinese law,” an unnamed Chinese faithful told AsiaNews.
The faithful said the prelate’s imprisonment “has become almost a routine, but it does not allow the bishop to celebrate and take care of his sheep. Our shepherd has become a sacrificial lamb.”
Bishop Cui Tai has been “illegally detained” or placed under house arrest, locked up in secret detention centers, hotels, or forcibly taken away on “trips” while in the custody of government officials.
Chinese authorities have previously released Bishop Cui Tai to visit his elderly sister for the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Bishop Cui Tai was ordained priest in 1990, and in 2013 was made coadjutor bishop of Xuanhua.
The Diocese of Xuanhua was established by the Holy See in 1946, however, in 1980, the Chinese government established the Diocese of Zhangjiakou as the “official” state-recognized Catholic diocese.
In March 2019, Bishop Cui Tai was detained after Father Francesco Zhang Li, a former diocesan priest, informed authorities about the prelate.
Father Zhang Li, who joined China’s state-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, accused the prelate of not acknowledging the 2018 Beijing and Vatican agreement on appointing bishops in China.