Fuzhou: Archbishop Peter Lin Jiashan has died
He passed away at the age of 88 after an illness. Recognised by the Holy See as pastor of the archdiocese since 2016, he officially took office in 2020 with government placet. With 300,000 faithful, Fuzhou's archdiocese is perhaps the richest in China. The archdiocese's history, however, is marked by internal divisions and contrasts.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - Msgr Peter Lin Jiashan, Archbishop of Fuzhou, in the southeastern province of Fujian, has died. The death occurred at lunchtime (local time); the 88-year-old prelate had failed to recover from an illness. After a three-day wake in the archdiocese cathedral, the funeral will be held on 17 April.
Born in Changle district (Fujian) on 2 September 1934, he was consecrated bishop in May 1981. Coadjutor bishop of Fuzhou in 1997, he has been recognised by the Holy See as pastor of the archdiocese since 2016, after a controversial internal division. He then took office as archbishop on 9 June 2020 with the placet also of the Chinese government.
Archbishop Lin was a member of the 'underground' Church, and had also been sentenced to 10 years of forced labour in the 1980s. According to some of the faithful, since the early 2000s he had the desire to make his situation official with the Chinese authorities, an intention that was, however, held back by the majority of his priests.
The archdiocese of Fuzhou is perhaps the richest and most numerous in China. In 2020, it had about 300,000 faithful, 120 priests and over 500 nuns. Before the official installation three years ago, the local community of religious was divided into two groups: about 20 supported Msgr Lin; another 60 supported Fr Lin Yuntuan, who was appointed apostolic administrator of the archdiocese by the Holy See in 2013.
To overcome disagreements between underground priests and those who had signed the government registration - compulsory under a 2017 state regulation - Msgr Lin had circulated a letter to religious and faithful in 2019. He urged them to remain 'united in spirit on the path of reconciliation, tolerance and mutual acceptance and unity in Christ, avoiding suspicion, attacks and divisions'.