07/06/2010, 00.00
CHINA

Priest and nun of underground diocese of Ningxia are killed

Zhen Yuan
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.

Wuhai (AsiaNews) - Fr Joseph Shulai Zhang (pictured), vicar general of the underground diocese of Ningxia (Inner Mongolia) and Sr. Mary Wei Yanhui were stabbed and killed last night in the district of Wuda, Wuhai, Inner Mongolia. The two religious worked in a hospice for the elderly wich is housed in the residence of the local church.

Local sources said this morning, the hospice staff, not seeing them appear at daily mass of 6.30, went to their rooms, finding the bodies of Father Joseph and Sr. Mary in a pool of blood, apparently stabbed to death. The murder was reported around 7 to the police, who cordoned off the area around the church complex and tapped telephone calls. Currently the motives behind the murder and identity of the assassin remain unknown.

Local Catholics tell AsiaNews that the body of Father Zhang has 7 deep knife wounds and signs of struggle. Sister Wei was instead killed by a stab wound to the chest.

Sister Wei, a native of Inner Mongolia, was the director of the nursing home that houses about 60 elderly people. The 32 year old nun professed her vows in 2001. She lived in rooms above the hospice.  Father Zhang, 55, was originally from the diocese of Xianxian (Hebei) and has been a priest since 1985. He began his service in Inner Mongolia about 20 years ago. His room was on the ground floor of the building.

The underground Church in Wuda is led by Mgr. Joseph Ma Zhongmu of Ningxia. He is the only ethnic Mongolian prelate in China and livesin the town of Chengchuan, Inner Mongolia. The official Church of Wuhai is instead under the diocese of Bameng, Inner Mongolia.

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