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    » 02/08/2012, 00.00

    CHINA

    Fr Zhang Wenchang, apostolic administrator in Kunming, dies

    Wang Zhicheng

    The 92-year-old priest spent 24 years in camps, persecuted for his loyalty to the pope. The government had chosen as bishop Ma Yinglin. Excommunicated in 2006, the latter was rejected by the faithful for not being in communion with the pope.
    Kunming (AsiaNews) – Kunming Catholics are preparing for the funeral of Fr Lawrence Zhang Wenchang, who died in his hometown in Shilin Yi Autonomous County on Sunday at the age of 92 after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer in October. The funeral service is planned for this Sunday. Since 2000, he had been apostolic administrator in three ecclesiastic territories in southern Yunan province: Kunming, Dali and Zhaotong.

    In 2006, Chinese authorities unlawfully ordained Fr Ma Yinglin as bishop of the area. Since then, he has been excommunicated, which did not prevent him from becoming president of the Chinese Bishops’ council, a body not recognised by the Holy See.

    Despite great support from the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, Ma Yinglin has little following among Kunming Catholics. Whenever he appears in public, they leave, refusing to receive the sacraments from him.

    Fr Zhang belonged instead to the underground community. In the past few years, he was kept under close police surveillance leading the typical life of the martyrs under Communist rule.

    Born in 1920, he had entered the diocesan minor seminary at the age of 12. After he graduated from Kunming major seminary, he was ordained in 1946 by Archbishop Alexandre Derouineau who was expelled in 1952, another victim of Maoism.

    After serving at the cathedral for a few years, Fr Zhang was forced to become a chicken and rabbit breeder in 1953 during a period of political turmoil.

    He was arrested in 1958 and imprisoned for counter-revolutionary crimes. He was later sent to reform-through-labour camp where he stayed between 1962 and 1982. In 1987, he was rehabilitated and allowed to serve the Church again.

    In Yunan, the Catholic Church has 60,000 members, mostly from ethnic minorities. However, the diocese has not had any bishop in communion with the pope since 1952.

    In 1962, the authorities did appoint Fr Kong Lingzhong, who died in 1992. Ma Yinglin’s turn came in 2006.
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    See also

    18/06/2011 CHINA - VATICAN
    Father Li Zhigang, appointed bishop of Chengdu, dies of cancer
    He was elected May 2011. So far he had not recieved papal mandate. He died surrounded by his priests and in prayer. He was very involved in the rebuilding of the buildings of the diocese, which was hit by the earthquake of 2008.

    13/10/2005 china- vatican
    Government accepts funeral of underground bishop

    Official and underground priests will co-celebrate at the ceremony.  The deceased bishop, who spent 24 years in prison, had a reputation of sanctity.



    17/02/2011 CHINA
    Death of Mgr. Hu Daguo underground bishop of Shiqian
    The prelate, 89, has spent decades of his life re-education camps and restrictions because of his Catholic faith. His funeral will be held on 20 February in Guiyang, in Guizhou Province.

    18/11/2010 CHINA
    Death of bishop of Shijiazhuang, Mgr. Jiang Taoran. Problems for Mgr. Jia Zhiguo
    Illicitly ordained, he was granted communion with the Holy See in 2008 with orders to obey Mgr. Jia Zhiguo. Who,, once again, is under detention and probably will not officiate at the funeral.

    03/02/2010 CHINA - VATICAN
    Bishop Wang Chonglin, bishop of Zhaoxian (Xingtai) dies
    As a priest he spent 21 years in prison. He was ordained underground bishop, acknowledged by the Holy See, and then recognized by the government. The faithful remember his great commitment to evangelization and formation of priests and nuns.



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