Underground priest dies in suspicious circumstances in Shanxi
Fr Pedro Wei Heping was found dead in a river. For police it was suicide, but those who knew him say that such an action would be out of character. Ordained in 2004, he drew many young people and founded an underground seminary, with highly qualified teachers.

Taiyuan (AsiaNews/CKF) – Father Pedro Wei Heping (pictured), a young underground Catholic priest, died on 6 November under suspicious circumstances. The clergyman’s body was found floating in a river in the City of Taiyuan, Shanxi Province.

The Cardinal Kung Foundation reported the news two days ago, saying that the authorities claimed that it was a case of suicide. However, friends and people who knew the priest exclude categorically that Fr Wei could even think about suicide.

In view of the situation, the Foundation has called on the “Chinese government to thoroughly investigate the cause of death of Father Wei and publish the findings quickly and truthfully.”

Born on Christmas Eve, 1974 in a Catholic family in Shanxi Province, Father Wei entered seminary in 1993.  He was sent to Europe for advanced studies and graduated with a Master’s degree in Canon Law. After returning home, he was clandestinely ordained on 24 August 2004 by an underground bishop. 

Fluent in a couple of European languages, Fr Wei was a talented organiser. He drew many young people to the underground Church and ran many programmes to boost vocations.

Since his return to China in 2007, he devoted himself totally in pastoral work, particularly in extremely poor and desolated areas. He also organised many retreats and seminars at underground convents and seminaries. 

His zeal in vocation led him to establish an underground seminary, where priests with advanced overseas qualifications taught.