Underground Chinese bishop in Shanghai dies at 97
St. Ignatius Cathedral in Shanghai, China. Credit: Heurik at de.wikipedia (CC-BY-SA 2.0 DE ).
St. Ignatius Cathedral in Shanghai, China. Credit: Heurik at de.wikipedia (CC-BY-SA 2.0 DE ).
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang, a bishop of Shanghai in the People’s Republic of China who spent decades under arrest for his faith, died March 16 at the age of 97.

The Cardinal Kung Foundation said March 16 that the bishop died “surrounded by some of his faithful parishioners.”

“He died at his home still under house arrest, a sentence that entailed strict surveillance by the government for most of the last two decades,” said the Stamford, Conn.-based foundation dedicated to supporting the Church in China.

In China, the Church is split between an “underground” Church loyal to Rome, and bishops and clergy who are part of the Chinese government’s Catholic Patriotic Association, which refuses to acknowledge the authority of the Pope.

Bishop Fan died after several days of a high fever. An underground priest immediately said a Mass for the repose of the bishop’s soul. Soon afterward, government officials arrived to transfer his body to a funeral home.

Bishop Fan was born in 1918, and baptized in 1932. He joined the Jesuits in 1938 and was ordained a priest in 1951 – two years after mainland China was seized by communist forces.

On Sept. 8, 1955 he was arrested by the Chinese government, spending more than 30 years in jail and forced labor.

He was secretly ordained as coadjutor bishop of Shanghai Feb. 27, 1985, at a time when the city’s bishop, Ignatius Kung, was still in jail.

Bl. John Paul II named Bishop Fan as the legitimate Bishop of Shanghai in March 2000, upon the death of Cardinal Kung.

However, Chinese officials placed him under arrest immediately. He spent the rest of his life as a prisoner, and the government never recognized him as bishop.

More than 2,000 underground Catholics are expected to attend Bishop Fan’s funeral. The Chinese government has denied a request to hold the Mass at Shanghai’s St. Ignatius Cathedral.

Another Shanghai bishop loyal to Rome is also in government custody.

Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin was consecrated a bishop July 7, 2012. At his ordination he announced that he would leave his position with the Catholic Patriotic Association to “devote every effort to episcopal ministry.”

His announcement, made in the presence of several state officials, was seen as a rebuke to the government; many of the congregation applauded the bishop.

Bishop Ma has not been seen in public since his ordination, and is under house arrest at Sheshan Seminary. The Cardinal Kung Foundation said the Chinese government and the Catholic Patriotic Association attempted to rescind his ordination.

In December 2013 the BBC reported he is now being sent to regular political lessons.

The Cardinal Kung Foundation appealed to the Chinese government for Bishop Ma’s immediate release.

“By reinstating Bishop Ma to his rightful office, China will be taking an important step forward in honoring religious freedom, a right that is guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution,” the foundation said. “We urge others to raise their voices and join in this appeal--both organizations advocating for religious freedom and human rights in China, and national governments where freedom of religious belief is central to their current practices or founding tenets.”

Tags: China, Underground Church

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea

Liturgical Calendar

December 19, 2014

Advent Weekday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Judg 13: 2-7, 24-25A
Gospel:: Lk 1: 5-25

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27