Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The religious and state funerals of Michele Fu Tieshan, Patriotic Bishop of Beijing were held this morning. Fu died on April 20th last and in his role as vice president of the Patriotic Association received a state burial. Fu’s body wrapped in the Chinese flag was laid to rest in Babaoshan cemetery west of Beijing, and was saluted by President Hu Jintao, premier Wen Jiabao, Wu Bangguo (president of the NPA) and Zeng Qinghong, member of the permanent commission of the Politburo.
Xinhua refers that 10 bishops 150 priests and about 1000 faithful participated in the religious funeral, also held in Babaoshan.
According to some Catholics, the turnout was low. At the funeral of msgr Antonio Li Duan, archbishop of Xian, on May 31 2005, over 20 thousand people attended. At the funeral of Beijing’s underground bishop msgr. Mattia Pei Shangde, in 2002, despite police controls non residents from attending, more than 3 thousand people turned out.
Fu Tieshan was president of the Patriotic Association, the organisation which aims to create a Church independent of Rome. Because of this the capital’s Catholics distanced themselves from him, preferring priests and bishops in communion with the Holy See.
Fu Tieshan body will be cremated tomorrow, and according to indiscretions, will be buried in the Catholic cemetery in Shibaiwanlu.