Appointed by Benedict XVI, Bishop Wu Junwei of Yuncheng dies
The 59-year-old suffered a heart attack induced by work-related stress. Ordained bishop in 2010, he had been approved by both the Holy See and Chinese authorities. Bishop Shao Zumin reappeared in a Beijing nursing home controlled 24/7 by police.
Rome (AsiaNews) – Bishop Peter Wu Junwei of Yuncheng, a diocese in Shanxi, died this morning at 10 am (Beijing time) from a heart attack; he was only 59 years old. The local Catholic community has called on all the faithful to pray for him (see videos 1 and 2).
Ordained a priest in 1990, he became bishop in 2010, dedicating himself to evangelisation, working hard on the issue of Church-owned property, organising catechesis for the faithful, and building new places of prayer.
Bishop Wu had been ill for some as a result of his work leading the local Church, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under heavy pressures, hard work undermined his health. In recent years, many Catholic religious, even young ones, have died due to work-related stress.
Born in a village near Taiyuan (Shanxi) in 1963, Bishop Wu entered the junior seminary in 1982, one year after high school. Eight years later he was ordained a priest in the local diocese.
From 1991 to 1996 he served as parish priest in Shagou, then was in charge of diocesan affairs until 2001. Between 2001 and 2009 he was rector of the Shanxi major seminary.
In September 2009 he moved to Yuncheng, and a year later he was appointed ordinary bishop in the local diocese, consecrated with the approval of the Holy See and Chinese authorities.
At his investiture Mass, Bishop Wu publicly thanked Pope Benedict XVI for his appointment and trust in him, and vowed to “remain firm and faithful to the Holy Father”.
He also urged the faithful to follow Saint Matthew’s example and renounce everything to follow Christ and dedicate themselves to the cause of evangelisation.
He was the eldest of six siblings from a fervent Catholic family: one brother became a priest while a sister joined the orders.
His great-uncle, Saint Peter Wu Anbang, suffered martyrdom during the Boxer rebellion of 1899-1901, and was canonised in 2000 as one of 120 holy Chinese martyrs.
His death comes at a delicate moment for China’s Catholic community. Last week reports indicated that police took into custody at least 10 priests in the diocese of Baoding (Hebei) since the start of the year.
Meanwhile, Catholic sources told AsiaNews that underground Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou (Zhejiang) was seen in Beijing.
Detained several times over the past few years, Bishop Shao underwent an operation recently and is currently in a nursing home, monitored day and night by policemen.
Despite the 2018 Sino-Vatican Agreement on episcopal appointments, which was renewed in October 2020, the persecution of Chinese Catholics continues unabated, especially those who are outside the “official” Church controlled by the Communist Party of China.