02/08/2010, 00.00
CHINA - VATICAN
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Over twenty thousand Catholics at the funeral of the Bishop of Zhaoxian

by Zhen Yuan
Mgr. Raymond Wang Chonglin died February 2 at 88. He spent 21 years in prison for his loyalty to the pope. Underground bishop ordained in '83, he was accepted by the government in '88.

Zhaoxian (AsiaNews) - Braving the cold winter, about 20 thousand Catholics took part this morning in the funeral of Mgr. Raymond Wang Chonglin, bishop of Zhaoxian (Xingtai). The large presence of faithful is due to the Catholics respect and love of their pastor, who spent 21 years in prison, but who never stopped working for his community (cf. 03/02/2010 Bishop Wang Chonglin, bishop of Zhaoxian (Xingtai) dies). The bishop died on 2 February at 88 from a brain haemorrhage.  

The funeral took place primarily in the cathedral church of Biancun (Hebei) for the mass, then there was a moment of prayer in the birthplace of the bishop and then the burial.  

Throughout all ceremonies hundreds of policemen controlled the situation. Mgr. Wang had been an underground bishop, but '88 was recognized by the government.  This morning at 9, the administrator of the diocese, Fr Simon Gao Baojin presided over the mass. Fr. Guo Jinjun, of Shunde, gave the homily. "The pastor is now in the [eternal]  pastures - said Fr Gao - but we hear his call. He is the servant and messenger of the Lord and he is not afraid. "  

Mass was attended by more than 70 priests and more than 10 thousand faithful.

The second part of the funeral took place with the transport of the remains to the prelate’s home village, Yuejiazhuang, where there was a moment of prayer, with the participation of tens of thousands of people.  

Finally, the coffin arrived at the cemetery for priests in Zhujiazhuang, about 35 km from Biancun, where the body was interred in the presence of tens of thousands of Catholics, along with all the priests and religious of the diocese.

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