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'Underground' Chinese bishop dies; funeral will test government control

August 30, 2010

The death of a Chinese bishop who had spent more than 28 years in prison poses a new test for the level of cooperation between the “official” Catholics recognized by the Beijing regime and the “underground” Church loyal to the Holy See.

Bishop John Yang Shudao of Fuzhou died on August 28 at the age of 91, as the result of a crippling stroke. He had been imprisoned by the Communist regime in 1955, released in 1981, but later sentenced to a new 3-year term, after his 1987 consecration as a bishop. He had been held for shorter terms at least twice since 2000.

The Fuzhou diocese, with about 250,000 faithful, is split, with perhaps two-thirds of the priests affiliated with the “underground” Church. The bishop’s funeral is scheduled for September 1, and government officials are reportedly working to assert control.


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