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    » 03/12/2011, 00.00

    CHINA - VATICAN

    Police isolate Hebei village after death of an underground bishop



    Bishop Andrea Hou Jinli of Xiwanzi, died March 9. The date of the funeral not known while police block participation of the faithful. Bishop Hao spent 10 years in prison and 10 years in a concentration camp.

    Beijing (AsiaNews / EDA) - The village of Gonghui (Hebei) has been cut off by the police to prevent large groups of Catholics who want to pay their last respects to the remains of an underground bishop.

    Bishop Andrea Hao Jinli of Xiwanzi died March 9 at the age of 95. The diocese of Xiwanzi (Hebei) is a diocese of the underground Church, with 15 thousand faithful, about 260 km north of Beijing, near the border with Inner Mongolia.

    The diocese has been without a pastor following the death of the coadjutor bishop over a year ago. Bishop Leo Yao Liang, coadjutor bishop died December 30, 2009 at hospital about a year after suffering almost three years in prison. He was 86. For his funeral, public security was deployed to curb the participation of the faithful. But that did not stop more than 5 thousand attending his funeral (01/07/2010 Thousands of Catholics defy snow, cold and police at the funeral of Mgr. Yao Liang).

    For Msgr. Hao Jinli the same thing is happening. Since the day he died, all the roads leading to the village have been closed and the date of the funeral is still not known.

    "Bishop Hou died on Ash Wednesday - said one of the faithful – He was united to Jesus Christ throughout his entire life, in the trials that he survived and now he will rise again in Him” . The bishop was very much loved by his community and has educated many priests of the underground Church. He spent 20 years in prison for his faith and decades under a suffocating control, always refusing to join the Patriotic Association, which aims to build a Church independent from the pope.

    Bishop Hao was born in 1916 to a Catholic family, he and other two brothers became priests. Ordained a priest in 1943, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1958. On leaving the prison, he was sent to a camp in Gonghui to be "re-educated through labour." Released in 1981, he began parish activity.

    In '84 he was ordained bishop of the underground Diocese of Chongli-Xiwanzi, succeeding Msgr. Melchior Zhang Kexing. Because of his illness in 2002, Fr Leo Yao Liang was ordained coadjutor bishop, but died in 2009.

    The situation of the diocese of Xiwanzi bevame more complicated in the 80s when the Chinese government combined the two dioceses of Xiwanzi and Xuanhua to form the new diocese of Zhangjiakou, still unrecognized by the Vatican and without a bishop.

    In recent years the Diocese of Xiwanzi tried to continue missionary work, but it has also suffered the arrests of priests and believers and the sequestering of churches.

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    See also

    14/03/2011 CHINA - VATICAN
    March 17 the funeral of underground bishop of Xiwanzi
    The faithful are subject to police control. No episcopal insignia or prayers for the bishop, not recognized by the government.

    04/01/2010 CHINA
    Underground Bishop of Xiwanzi dies, security tightened for funeral
    Although the area is under heavy snow, thousands of faithful are expected for the funeral. The government bans display of Episcopal insignia, prohibits the publication of obituaries and allows only three priests to attend the ceremony. In 2009, 7 Chinese bishops died. In China only 94 pastors remain.

    06/10/2009 CHINA
    Mgr. James Lin Xili, underground bishop of Wenzhou, dies
    Even while sick and bed-bound he was controlled by the police. He spent 16 years in a forced labour camp, as a cobbler. Under him, the Church of Zhejiang flourished.

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

    10/04/2007 CHINA
    Thousands are baptised in Beijing, while in Zhejiang two priests are imprisoned
    The wave of new conversions makes it difficult to find sufficient godparents. In the interim of the Pope’s long awaited letter to China’s Catholics, the Patriotic Association’s iron fist is felt, particularly in Hebei and Zhejiang.



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