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Chinese bishop dies from heart attack at 59

Bishop Peter Wu Junwei of Yuncheng was hailed for his efforts in evangelization

Chinese bishop dies from heart attack at 59

Bishop Peter Wu Junwei of Yuncheng died from a heart attack on May 10 at the age of 59. (Photo supplied)

Published: May 12, 2022 05:45 AM GMT

Updated: May 13, 2022 07:43 AM GMT

Catholic Bishop Peter Wu Junwei of Yuncheng in Shanxi of northern China died from a heart attack on May 10 at the age of 59.

He was ordained a priest in 1990 and consecrated bishop of Yuncheng (Xinjiang) Diocese on Sept. 21, 2010, with approval from both the Vatican and the Chinese government.

Bishop Wu has been hailed for his efforts in evangelization, maintaining church-owned property, construction of places for worship, and catechism training for Catholics during his tenure.

Church sources said the bishop had been ill recently due to stress resulting from his hard work, which intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to his untimely death.

The late bishop was born on June 27, 1963, as the eldest of six children in a devout Catholic family in a village near Taiyuan city, the capital of Shanxi province. One of his brothers is a priest while his sister is a nun.

His great granduncle, St. Peter Wu Anbang, was martyred during the Boxer Rebellion, an anti-foreign, anti-colonial and anti-Christian uprising in China in 1900. He was canonized by the Vatican along with 120 Chinese martyrs in 2000. 

“Bishop Wu was devoted to serving the Lord throughout his life, fulfilled his pastoral duties well and was loyal to the Church, making great contributions to the development of Catholicism in Shanxi province"

The young Wu studied at Xinjiang Minor Seminary and Shanxi Major Seminary in Taiyuan before his priestly ordination. He served as parish priest of Shagou from 1991-96 and was the rector of Taiyuan Minor Seminary, diocesan treasurer and director of church affairs from 1996 to 2001.

He served as rector of the Shanxi Montecorvino Major Seminary from 2001-09 before Pope Benedict XI appointed him as the third bishop of Yuncheng in May 2009.

Despite the pulling of ropes between the Vatican and China’s communist regime for the control of the Catholic Church’s affairs and appointment of bishops, Bishop Wu during his installation Mass publicly thanked the pope for his appointment and for trusting him. He vowed to “remain firm and faithful to the Holy Father”.

The state-approved Bishops’ Conference of Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) said Bishop Wu’s death was a great loss as he was the director of Shanxi Catholic Academic Affairs Committee, deputy director of Shanxi Catholic Patriotic Association (another state-sanctioned church body) and a member of the standing committee of the BCCCC.

“Bishop Wu was devoted to serving the Lord throughout his life, fulfilled his pastoral duties well and was loyal to the Church, making great contributions to the development of Catholicism in Shanxi province,” the statement read.

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