09/13/2016, 12.52
CHINA - VATICAN
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More than 5,000 faithful attend the funeral of the bishop of Wenzhou. Mgr Peter Shao is still "on vacation" with the police (Photos)

by Victoria Ma

Even three abducted priests have not reappeared. Underground priests were not allowed to attend the funeral. Mgr Shao, appointed by the Holy See, is welcome by the official community, but no one knows whether the government will give its approval.

Wenzhou (AsiaNews) – More than 5,000 Catholics took part in the funeral of Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang of Wenzhou who passed away on 7 September. People brought flowers, flags and wreaths at the cemetery.

The ceremony began with a prayer led by Father Hu Longjian, along with 43 priests from Wenzhou and other dioceses, as wells sisters, seminarians and the bishop’s relatives.

Local Catholics gathered at Ma Qiao, Bishop Zhu’s native village, where the Catholic cemetery is located. His body was cremated, and the remains buried. The burial was officiated by 84-year-old Father Sun Zhunhua, the oldest priest in Wenzhou.

Last night, Father Ma Xianshi, director of priest-consultors, led the requiem Mass. According to some faithful, Fr Ma, who is not even liked that much by the official community, is slated to replace Mgr Zhu even though the Vatican has designated Mgr Peter Shao Zhumin as the coadjutor (now ordinary) bishop.

Bishop Shao belong to the underground community and is not recognised as a government bishop. A few days before Mgr Zhu died, police took Shao on “on a tour” of the Northwestern China starting on 23 August.  

Three priests of the underground side were also taken away. All the other priests from the underground side were contacted and warned by public security officials not to attend the funeral this morning. If the priests wanted to do, they had to get permission from security officials first, a source told AsiaNews.

Some underground Catholics went to the funeral parlour to offer prayers for Bishop Zhu. Some joined the crowd at the cemetery this morning, the source said.

Many Catholics in the open community of Wenzhou diocese are worried about the leadership problem, and discussed it among themselves.

Father Ma told the faithful at last night’ requiem Mass, “The bishop is a sign of unity and communion of the Church. The Wenzhou diocese has undergone divisions all these years. Until today, there is little communion in sacraments. We pray that Bishop Zhu in heaven will continue to pray for the unity of Wenzhou diocese.”

Chen, a layperson from Wenzhou diocese, said: “If Bishop Shao surfaces to lead the whole diocese of Wenzhou, he has to overcome many problems, including the permission of the government, but the priests and the faithful in the open community welcome him.”

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