Chinese police have released a key ‘underground’ bishop after arresting him and holding him for a day as Beijing and the Vatican prepare to seal a historic agreement on the appointment of prelates, a source told AFP today.

Vincent Guo Xijin, bishop of the diocese of Mindong in the southeastern province of Fujian, was at the centre of the highly controversial deal after being urged by the Vatican to step aside for another bishop recognised by China’s Communist government.

According to Asia News, bishop Gua and the chancellor of the diocese, Fr Xu, were arrested by the police on Monday evening. The status of the second church official is unclear, AFP said.

Reports said that at 3pm, bishop Guo, 59, was called into the office for religious affairs where he met with government officials for over two hours. At 7pm he reportedly returned to his residence but at 10pm he was taken away.

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