Share story

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is expressing “grave concern” for a Chinese bishop who it says was “forcibly removed” from his office several weeks ago.

The Holy See in a statement Monday said neither Catholics in Wenzhou diocese nor the prelate’s relatives know where or why Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin was taken.

The Vatican recognizes Shao’s appointment as bishop; Chinese authorities don’t.

The Catholic church and the ruling Communist authorities of China have wrestled for decades over Vatican insistence only the pope can appoint bishops.

Last week, a Vatican-affiliated missionary news service said Shao’s disappearance is believed to be part of an attempt to persuade him to join the Communist-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association church.

The Vatican, saying it’s “profoundly saddened” by Shao’s case and “other similar episodes,” expressed hope he’ll return quickly.