08/27/2005, 00.00
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Underground bishop dies

Mgr Xie Shiguang has died of leukemia aged 88. He spent around 28 years in prison for his allegiance to the Pope.

Mingdong (AsiaNews/Kf) – Eighty-eight-year-old Mgr Xie Shiguang – underground Bishop of Mingdong, diocese of Fujian – died of leukemia on 25 August. He was diagnosed with the cancer in May.

The bishop was ordained to the priesthood on 3 May 1949 and he was appointed as bishop on 25 January 1984. Underground Catholics in Mingdong number about 75,000.

Mgr Xie spent about 28 years in prison: the first time from 1955 to 1956, the second from 1958 to 1980, the third from August 1984 until 1987 and the fourth from 1990 to 1992.

In October 1999, "invited for a chat" with government representatives, he was whisked away to an unknown location. Released after two months, the bishop was kept under surveillance until his death.

Mgr Xie always refused government demands that he register officially with the Patriotic Association, the state body which controls churches: among its aims is the establishment of a national church detached from Rome.

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