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Doubts cast over probe into Chinese priest's mysterious death

Father Yu's strong faith remembered during memorial Mass in Hong Kong
Doubts cast over probe into Chinese priest's mysterious death

Cardinal Joseph Zen celebrates the memorial Mass held for Father Pedro Yu. (Photo by ucanews.com)

Published: January 07, 2016 06:03 AM GMT
Updated: January 07, 2016 06:21 AM GMT

More than 200 Hong Kong Catholics attended a memorial Mass for an "underground" priest in China who was found dead under mysterious circumstances in early November.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing were among the priests who concelebrated the Mass at St. Andrew's Church on Dec. 30 for Father Pedro Yu Heping, also known as Wei Heping.

Chinese police informed Father Yu's family on Nov. 11 that his body had been found in the Fen River, a tributary of the Yellow River that flows through Shanxi province. Father Yu's body was first discovered on Nov. 8. He was supposed to have arrived in northeastern Liaoning province the previous day.

During the homily, Cardinal Zen read out part of Father Yu's unpublished article on China-Vatican relations "Time belongs to Him," wherein the priest questioned if the China-Vatican dialogue would bear fruit.

"We cannot give up real religious freedom in exchange for the agreement. We can wait," read Cardinal Zen from Father Yu's article.

"But while waiting, we can still work quietly. No one can hinder us from preaching the Gospel of Jesus, to be salt and light," he said.

Father Yu's article was written before the second round of China-Vatican talks, which began last October, a church source told ucanews.com.

Cardinal Zen said that Father Yu had words of wisdom for Holy See officials. "He said, 'Do not give up what we should do to appease the Chinese government but to give spiritual support to consolidate the bishops, priests, parishioners who are loyal to the pope,'" Cardinal Zen said.


Cardinal Joseph Zen waves incense in front of Father Pedro Yu's image. (Photo by ucanews.com)


Police investigation raises concerns

The cardinal also cast doubt on the police investigation, wondering why authorities could not provide answers when there are surveillance cameras everywhere in China. Even if there were an answer from Chinese authorities, the cardinal said it would be difficult to be certain that it is true.

During the homily, Cardinal Zen also revealed that in the past year, security officers had warned Father Yu not to contact him.

"In fact, I never took the initiative to contact him, and he seldom came to Hong Kong to meet me," the retired cardinal said.

Chinese police are still investigating Father Yu's death and have called for anyone who was in contact with him on Nov. 6 to notify them, according to a notice on Tianzhujiao Zaixian, a Catholic website of which Father Yu was a co-founder.

"There is not yet any result from the autopsy. However, the police clarified that they never determined that Yu died because of committing suicide," the notice said.

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