04/21/2007, 00.00
CHINA - VATICAN

State funeral for Beijing’s Patriotic bishop, party “property”

Despite the request made by the Patriotic Association, there will be no Vatican representative at the burial. Officially praised as “a great friend of the communist party”. Doubts surround the date of his death.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Michele Fu Tieshan, Patriotic Archbishop of Beijing, will receive a funeral fit for a “head of state”.  There will be no Vatican representative present, neither the religious ceremony nor the state burial.

Church sources in Hong Kong told AsiaNews that members of the Beijing Patriotic Association expressed their desire that there should be a Vatican representative at the burial, but it is “highly improbable that someone will attend.  There was no Vatican representative at last year’s funeral of msgr.  Li Duan [archbishop of Xian] who was in deep communion with the Pope and Vatican”. Despite this, the sources add, all of the faithful in China and abroad “should pray for his soul, which is now at the mercy of God’s justice”.

Michele Fu Tieshan died yesterday evening at 19.50 (Beijing time), at Beijing Hospital. In the official statement however, the Patriotic Association, decided to make it appear that he died at 8.08 in the evening, because of the “luck” that number “8” brings in Chinese fortune telling.  “Lets’ just hope that they don’t put Taoist cards or Majiang playing cards in his coffin!” was the comment of one Beijing Catholic. The reference is to the superstitious nature of the deceased bishop and his passion for Majiang (Chinese dominos).

The capital’s faithful notice with some bitterness that the patriotic bishop’s body was “sequestered” by the PA – of which Fu was national president – in order to publicize his “contribution to the nation”, without a single reference to the Catholic faith.  “He died as he lived – one woman notices – that is as Communist Party property”.  The same official Party statement, exalts him as a “patriotic religious leader, social activist and great friend of the Chinese communist party”.

The PA has sent out a communiqué in which they ask all of the parishes in China to pray for him.  In Beijing’s’ Nantang (Church of the Immaculate), the capital’s cathedral, there will be a 7 day period of mourning with mass celebrated in his memory each day for the repose of the soul of Fu Tieshan.

Among Beijing’s faithful there are some who doubt the veracity that the bishop died yesterday.  According to some his death dates to April 12th.  Since then in fact most of the people who wished to visit him, had to content themselves with prayers for his recovery instead, outside his room.  From a window looking into his room all that was visible was the immobile bedridden figure of the Bishop, perhaps in coma, or already dead.   

 

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