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Restrictions in place for bishop's funeral

Officials say 'no' to honoring status of Changzhi prelate who died last week

Bishop Francis Li Yi of Changzhi Bishop Francis Li Yi of Changzhi
  • ucanews.com reporter, Changzhi
  • China
  • May 30, 2012
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Government officials have barred the Church community from honoring Bishop Francis Li Yi of Changzhi’s status at his funeral, which is scheduled to take place in northern Shanxi province tomorrow.

The Franciscan prelate died of a stroke at the age of 89 on May 24. He had been ill since March.

Bishop Li, who was consecrated secretly in 1998, was approved by the Vatican but not recognized by the government. Despite negotiation with government officials, the Church community will not be allowed to recognize his bishop’s status at his funeral.

The funeral Mass will take place at Machang village church, followed by a funeral procession and his burial in the cemetery at St. Elisabeth Nuns’ Convent.

Two senior priests recognized by the government will preside at the funeral, since the government-recognized ordinary of Changzhi diocese, Bishop Andrew Jin Daoyuan, is not expected to attend, local Church sources said.

Bishop Jin, 83, received “self-ordination” without papal mandate in 2000. The Holy See recognized him as a legitimate bishop without jurisdiction in 2008, but he continues to lead the “open” Church community.

Born in 1923 in Changzhi, Bishop Li entered a minor seminary when he was 13. In 1943, he joined the Order of Friars Minor.

He was ordained a priest in 1949, just as the Communists took control of mainland China.

He later served at a Catholic high school and a parish in Macau before entering the University of Tianjin in northern China to study history in 1951. After his graduation four years later, he served in a parish there before returning to his hometown in 1958.

Like many other churchmen, he was imprisoned when the Cultural Revolution began in 1966.

Returning to Changzhi diocese after his release in 1985, he worked for the revival of Church life. In 1998, he was ordained secretly by his predecessor Bishop Anthony Li Weidao and succeeded him after he died that same year.

Changzhi currently has about 50 priests and 55,000 Catholics. Four of the ten priests ordained by Bishop Li in 2004 are still not recognized by the government.

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