Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired bishop of Hong Kong, protested at the Chinese Liaison Office in the city and asked the whereabouts of Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang of Yixian, who was said to have died in detention.
"We see faith driving us to do right, But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge -- or worse, sometimes used as a weapon."
Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang of Yixian, 94, a member of the so-called underground Catholic church who has not been seen since his arrest in 2001, has died, a relative said.
Born in Hebei province, Shi was arrested April 13, 2001, Good Friday, at his niece's home in Beijing. He was held without charge in a secret location.
"We were informed by Baoding city government officials on Friday morning, but they did not say when he died exactly or the cause of his death," Shi Chunyan, the bishop's great-niece, told the Asian Catholic news portal ucanews.com on Saturday.
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China has reacted cautiously to a bid by Pope Francis to open new dialogue with Beijing, with some officials quick to warn the Vatican not to "interfere" with the country's religion.
On his return flight from a five-day tour of South Korea, Francis said he was ready to go to China -- "For sure! Tomorrow!" -- after receiving a positive response to two goodwill telegrams he sent to President Xi Jinping as the pope flew over Chinese airspace.
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Informed observers are speculating that the pope might add another destination to his first Asian trip -- one that would mark the voyage as truly historic.
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