Underground Chinese Priest Released

ROME, MAY 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- An underground priest of the Catholic Church in China, Father Shao Zhoumin, was released from prison due to illness.

Father Shao, the vicar general of the Wenzhou Diocese, is suffering from an illness that has left him deaf, likely contracted during his detention, www.AsiaNews.it reported.

Father Shao was accused of having falsified his passport and was arrested last August after returning from a pilgrimage to Rome.

The 43-year-old priest, now in the hospital, thanked all those who facilitated his early release on Wednesday, one month before the end of his sentence.

He already served a prison sentence in 1999, which was also shortened due to ill health.

Father Jiang Sunian, the chancellor of the Wenzhou Diocese, was arrested at the same time as Father Shao.

Father Jiang, who also has a respiratory illness, was given an 11-month sentence and should be freed at the end of August.