UCA News reports that local sources say the freedom of Bishop Joseph Wu Qinjing of Zhouzhi has been restricted since government officials sent him to "a learning class for about three days" on 18 March.
As a priest in the open Church, Bishop Wu's episcopal status is not recognised by the Chinese government.
One local source, who asked not to be named, said Catholics in the diocese had thought the government's action was aimed at preventing the bishop from celebrating the feast of his patron saint, Saint Joseph, on 19 March, as well as the third death anniversary of a priest the next day.
"But until today, the bishop is still out of reach," he told UCA News, adding that many of the Catholics are worried about the prelate's safety.
Sources said they could not reach Bishop Wu through his mobile phone, but heard that the 39-year-old bishop is being confined in Lintong district near Xi'an, provincial capital of Shaanxi, 877km southwest of Beijing.
They also said they heard that government officials pressured the bishop to discontinue his episcopal ministry and tried to make him leave his diocese and flock.
On Easter Sunday a source said a message from the bishop was relayed "to his beloved Catholics," asking for their prayers regarding "the restriction of his freedom, when Jesus Christ has died, suffered and resurrected in glory today."
"We all wept when we heard this," said the source. "The bishop, in such circumstances, still encourages us to have faith in God, and still remembers his flock."
He continued, "We beg the merciful God to protect him, that he would hold fast to his faith and not yield to pressure. We also hope that he can return home soon."
Bishop Wu was clandestinely ordained the sixth bishop of Zhouzhi with Vatican approval, and his episcopal status was made known to other priests in Zhouzhi in May last year.
Zhouzhi diocese has about 60,000 Catholics and 50 priests.
Catholics of Zhouzhi Diocese Remember Missing Bishop During Easter (UCAN, 16/4/07)
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17 Apr 2007