Rome (AsiaNews) Mgr Anthony Li Duan, archbishop of Xian, one of the most important figures in today's Chinese Church died on Wednesday May 24 at 9.17 pm Rome time (Thurday May 25 at 03.17 Beijing time). The 79-year-old prelate had been fighting liver cancer for the past two years and had spent long stretches of time in hospital for treatment.
Archbishop Li was one of the four Chinese bishops Pope Benedict XVI invited in October of last year to the Synod on the Eucharist. His Catholic witness was known throughout the universal Church.
Member of the official Church but also supporter and friend of pontiffs, Mgr Li strongly backed reconciliation between the official Church on the one hand, and Rome and the underground Church on the other.
Well appreciated by intellectuals and political leaders alike, including non Christians, he rebuilt the Church in Xian (Shaanxi) after the disasters wrought by the Cultural Revolution. In doing so he strengthened local Christian communities and religious schools in terms of their charity work and theological studies. His diocese now includes 59 priests, 300 women religious and 20,000 faithful.
Last year Anthony Dang Mingyan, 38, was appointed as the diocese's coadjiutor bishop with the Pope's approval.
Last week in the midst of the heated debate over the unlawful appointments of bishops wanted by the Patriotic Association, AsiaNews published an interview with Archbishop Li, who was hopeful that it would not be long before China and the Vatican established diplomatic relations.
To know more about the interview, read Relations between China and the Holy See within five years, says Mgr Li Duan.
For a short biographical note about Mgr Li Duan, read Mgr Anthony Li Duan (Profile)