Reports out of China indicate that Beijing is increasing its pressure on members of the so-called underground Catholic church, distinguihed from the Beijing-administered Patriotic Catholic Church by its fealty to Rome. Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) is reporting that Chinese security officials have detained a number of underground church leaders from Tianshui diocese in northwestern Gansu province over the weekend, including diocesan administrator Father John Baptist Wang Ruohan; retired Bishop Casmir Wang Milu; Father John Wang Ruowang; "as well as several other priests and dozens of parish lay leaders." (Bishop Wang and the two Father Wangs are brothers.) The roundup appears timed to suppress opposition to a possible bishop's ordination in Tianshui. The Patriotic Catholic Church has not had a diocesan bishop since the passing of Bishop Augustine Zhao Jinglong in 2004.
Local church officials report that the detained members of the underground church are being questioned by Chinese authorities and forced to attend "study sessions" for four hours a day. The AP reports that an official with the local government's Religious Affairs Bureau said "there was definitely no detention at all" and that the men were merely taking part in a routine training session.
After the appearance of improved relations in recent years, Rome and Beijing have reverted to historic form since Beijing reinitiated a campaign of bishops' ordinations o the Patriotic Catholic Church without a mandate from Rome. That has led to the excommunication of some recently ordained bishops and others who cooperated with their ordination as the Vatican and Chinese authroities continue to wrestle for control of China's Catholics.