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    » 07/12/2010, 00.00

    CHINA

    Ningxia Catholics : Death of priest and nun leads us to unity and reconciliation

    Zhen Yuan

    The priest who presided at the funeral calls on Catholics to forgive the murderer and pray for him. The official bishop of Bameng does not participate in the funeral, but brings a floral tribute and offers condolences to the underground community. The church and hospice where the two victims worked in danger of being demolished.

    Wuhai (AsiaNews) - The underground community of Ningxia, deeply affected by the killing of a priest and nun a few days ago, is marked by sadness and prayer. At the funeral held on July 10, the community affirmed that their death “has brought cohesion and unity among Catholics and given us the opportunity to meet with the clergy of the official church".

    55 year-old Fr. Joseph Shulai Zhang, and 32 year-old Sr. Mary Wei Yanhui were killed July 6 by Zhang Weiping, a former seminarian. The scene of the crime was the Aixin (love) hospice for the elderly in the city of Qiaoxi (Wuda, District of Wuhai, Inner Mongolia).  Xinhua reports that 43 year-old Zhang Weiping was arrested on 8 July.

    The funerals of two victims were held together at the church near the hospice.  The memorial mass was attended by more than 1,000 Catholics, along with victims' relatives and 60 guests of the nursing home for the elderly.  Fr. Wang Zeyi, who presided over the celebration, has asked all Catholics to forgive and pray for the murderer.

    Fr. Zhang and Sr. Wei were buried in the Catholic cemetery, about 50 km from Wuda.  The faithful accompanied the coffins to the cemetery in over 120 vehicles. The ceremony took place in an orderly and solemn fashion out of respect for the two deceased with prayers for the “resurrection and the repose of their souls. "

    The official bishop of Bameng (Inner Mongolia), Mgr. Matthias Du Jiang did not participate in the funeral, but along with three priests he went to the Wuda church before the funeral to offer flowers to the deceased and condolences to the community.

    Fr Heping of Ningxia, told AsiaNews that the tragic incident has strengthened unity between Catholics and 10 priests of the underground community and was an important opportunity to bring together the two communities , official and underground, to meet each other in the open.  "Catholics of Ningxia - he continued - are determined to carry on the work of Fr Zhang and Sr. Wei, in the church and hospice. Fr. Wang will be the successor of the late Father Zhang as pastor and as director of the nursing home. "

    "Fr. Zhang will be remembered as an honest person, who dedicated his life to the formation of vocations", said Fr Heping, who had Fr. Zhang as a teacher. "Even Sr. Wei - he added - was very dedicated to serving the elderly and collaborated with Fr. Zhang in his pastoral work".

    Despite the murder, all the elderly guests of the home are determined to stay in the hospice, where they greatly appreciate the care given them by the Catholic community. But the Church is concerned that the local church and home will be demolished and the elderly transferred elsewhere.  

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    See also

    09/07/2010 CHINA
    Ningxia, priest and nun murdered by former seminarian
    Wenping Zhang, 43, was arrested yesterday afternoon in Hohhot. He had been fired and promised to kill Fr Joseph Zhang. Victim’s funerals will be held on 11 July.

    06/07/2010 CHINA
    Priest and nun of underground diocese of Ningxia are killed
    The two religious worked in a nursing home in the district of Wuda in Wuhai, a main city of Inner Mongolia. The hospice staff found their bodies around 6.30 this morning in a pool of blood. Reasons for murder and identity of assassin remain unknown.

    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.

    17/11/2009 CHINA - VATICAN
    Official and underground priests in China ponder Card. Bertone’s letter
    The document of the Vatican Secretary of State is "encouraging." Underground priests and nuns have begun to study the letter in groups. Others hope that the Vatican will give more precise information. A young bishop: We too need to be trained". Among the problems: priests too distracted by the Internet and a lack of educators in seminaries.

    18/02/2010 VATICAN - CHINA
    Cardinal Zen: My hopes for the Church in China in this Year of the Tiger
    Nearly 1000 days from the Pope's letter to Chinese Catholics, it is hard to see any fruits. But there are some seeds. The most important commitment is reconciliation in the Church, without media exaggerations. The "abnormal interference" of the current government makes "the abnormal secrecy" of the Church still valid. The Cardinal of Hong Kong, a defender of religious freedom, takes stock of the situation.



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