Bishop Paul Cheng (left), assisted by Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, blows out candles on his birthday cake in 2010
Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, 89, the retired bishop of Kaohsiung died yesterday evening, while Bishop Paul Cheng Shih-kuang, 97, the retired bishop of Tainan, passed away just hours later.
Cardinal Shan, who had suffered from lung cancer for six years, died at the Cardinal Tien Hospital in New Taipei city on Wednesday evening. The fifth Chinese cardinal in history died without being allowed to revisit his birthplace on the Mainland. The Beijing government refused him an entry permit last year.
In his final moments, the Cardinal made a phone call to his 88-year-old sister but did not reveal the details of the conversation.
Cardinal Shan and his sister last met in 1979, before he was ordained the bishop of Hualien. That was his most recent return to mainland China, more than 30 years ago, when he paid his respects at the gravesite of his parents.
Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei, president of the bishop’s conference in Taiwan, said he would ask the Straits Exchange Foundation, a semi-official organization which bridges Taiwan and mainland China, to help arrange for Cardinal Shan’s sister to attend his funeral.
“Cardinal Shan also advised a simple funeral with a paschal candle, a Bible and a coffin for the poor as he wished to be poor to the end,” Archbishop Hung told a press conference last night.
Archbishop Peter Liu Cheng-chung of Kaohsiung said the body of their former bishop would be moved to the curia on Thursday for public tribute. His funeral Mass is scheduled for September 1 at St Dominic High School and his body will be buried at Kaosong Diocese Cemetery.
Doctor Wang Cheng-yi told ucanews.com he was amazed to see the cardinal’s strong will to live. “He lived nearly six years after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Though I am not a Catholic, I find it hard not to consider it a miracle.”
The Jesuit cardinal was the former bishop of Hualien and Kaohsiung dioceses. He was made cardinal of the Taiwan Church in 1998. Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation in 2006.
Also born in mainland China, Bishop Cheng died early Thursday morning at the Veterans General Hospital in Taichung city.
Bishop Bosco Lin Chi-nan of Tainan went to receive his body back to the diocese today. A Requiem Mass will be celebrated at the cathedral and his body will be placed there for public tribute until a date can be set for the funeral.
Bishop Cheng was the oldest bishop in Taiwan. Born in Shanxi province in 1915, he was ordained a priest in 1943 and appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Taipei in 1960.
He served as bishop of Tainan from 1966 until his retirement in 1990, after which he lived in Taichung, under the care of the Missionary Sisters of Providence.
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