From the Associated Press:
A number of priests and laymen in China’s underground Catholic church have been detained in the country’s northwest in a struggle over the appointment of a new bishop, overseas reports said Wednesday.
Catholic news agencies AsiaNews and ucanews said security officials rounded up men from the underground community in the city of Tianshui over the weekend. They are being held separately and are required to attend political study sessions for four hours each day, they said.
However, an official with the local government’s Religious Affairs Bureau said the men were merely taking part in a routine training session.
“There was definitely no detention at all,” said the man, who refused to give his name because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.
AsiaNews and ucanews said the actions appeared to be aimed at persuading the men to support the official candidate to fill the bishop’s seat in Tianshui.
China has no formal relations with the Vatican and insists on the right to appoint its own bishops in defiance of Rome. Underground and government-recognized Catholic communities exist in tandem in China, with priests and laymen often moving between the two.