08/18/2017, 15.30
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Chinese Priest: The differences between the funeral of Msgr. Xie and Msgr. Li

by Shan Ren Shen Fu (山人神父)

For the first, the bishop of Urumqi, priests and faithful were banned from taking part in the funeral mass; there was no episcopal insignia in the photos; only half an hour for the ceremony. The other, bishop of Taiyuan, was surrounded by the affection and  esteem of thousands of his priests and faithful. But "the saints who welcome the two bishops to the door of Paradise are equally numerous."

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Two different funerals for Msgr. Paul Xie Tingzhe, Bishop of Urumqi, and Msgr. Silvester Li Jiantang, bishop of Taiyuan. Below we publish an insightful reflection by the priest blogger Shanren Shenfu. As is well known, Msgr. Xie - on a government and funeral committee directive - had a hasty and hidden ceremony with a ban on priests from attending Mass, except for three. For the other, there was a sumptuous ceremony, an expression of the affection of the faithful, but also of the permission granted by the government. Bishop Xie, in fact, was not recognized by the government; for this reason at his death he was not allowed to be surrounded by the affection of his priests; nor was he allowed to bear the insignia of his episcopacy. Yesterday AsiaNews highlighted the double standards applied by the government. Ours  was not a criticism of the Taiyuan faithful and priests, who did very well to surround their shepherd with devotion and esteem, having always worked for evangelization. We merely  wanted to point out that politics has tried to suffocate (unnecessarily) not only the life, but also the death of a hero of the faith, who has recreated the Xinjiang Church  from almost nothing. We are aggrieved at the thought that Taiyuan priests are wounded because some believe there was "too much pomp" at the funeral of Msgr. Li Jiantang. At the same time we would hope they would be equally aggrieved at the fact that Msgr. Xie was not afforded the same splendor. (BC)

Bishop Paul Xie Tingzhe died a day after Bishop Silvester Li Jiantang, but Msgr. Paolo Xie Tingzhe was buried one day before the funeral of Msgr. Silvestro Li Jiantang. Yesterday, at the burial ceremonies of Bishop Li Jiantang, all the priests of the diocese were present to bid him a final farewell, but on August 16, at the funeral of bishop Xie Tingzhe, only three priests were allowed to attend the rites. The Lord programmed the deaths before and after the two bishops, but it was men who decided when the funerals should have been celebrated after and before.

Such abnormal events exist only in our country. Some people think that abnormal things have always existed, so why not bother to mention them? But I do not think that this is a good attitude, if I see something and then do not speak out. It is rare that two funerals are so close to each other, and it is even rare that such funerals present such obvious differences.

Taiyuan Cathedral was full of people, and in the Urumqi cathedral there were only three or five souls. I have always believed in what Msgr. Xie Tingzhe said when he gave an interview with journalist Gianni Valente of Vatican Insider, who at that time said, "There is no Patriotic Association in Xinjiang Province. And we always got along well. " And so when I read on chinacath.org that has republished this interview all over the country titled with the above sentence, I could not believe that only three priests were granted permission to attend the funeral of Msgr. Xie.

I console myself seeing the black curtains and the condolences posters hanging in front of the door of the Urumqi cathedral. This means, at least, that they have allowed the old bishop to die! Perhaps by forcing them to keep such a low profile they may believe they are doing everything to demonstrate the lesser weight of Bishop Xie's death over the death of Bishop Li.

Nevertheless, with regards to the honor of the funerals organized by men, the glory that the two bishops will enjoy in the heavens more than their suffering in their earthly lives is of far greater importance for the faithful. What glory do ignorant men and sinners think they are capable of depriving or conceding? Just to show that Xinjiang air is "a little cleaner" than Shanxi's.

The photo used in the funeral of Msgr. Xie Tingzhe (see photo 1) is one from his youth (the present photo was taken without his vestments at the insistence of the authorities), just as the Xinjiang Church. While Msgr. Li Jiantang is lying in a coffin wearing the golden bishop's gown (photo 2), and in front of the coffin there is the photo that shows him in his bishop's  vestments. But on the photo of Msgr. Xie he is depicted as he was when he chose to come to Xinjiang.

In reality the differences, purposefully organized by men, show that the same results can be obtained with or without the Patriotic Association. Those of Msgr. Xie, also Msgr. Li. And those of Msgr. Li, are not lacking in Msgr. Xie.

Some faithful have said to me sadly: "We too love the bishop, we also hoped there would be many priests, many nuns, and many faithful to bid farewell to our bishop, just as they did today for Bishop Li in the Taiyuan diocese." I answered them: "You cannot compare because the number of the faithful in Taiyuan is much greater than those of Xinjiang. But believe me, the saints who welcome the two bishops to the door of Paradise are equally numerous. So we must not be sad! We must give the opportunity to others to learn and know, and they will laugh with us one day when they discover this foolishness. "

We thank this digital era because even though it was forbidden to take photos during the funeral of Bishop Xie, after we were flooded with photos of the ceremony.

This photo (No. 3) shows us that it takes 8 people to carry a coffin, 4 people per side. It would be too crowded, but if there were only 5 people on one side, that would not be nice.

How beautiful the Church is without the Patriotic Association! ...

So, we should always show appreciation. May the bishops enjoy the peace of the Heavens.

Shan Ren Shen Fu

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