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China

TWO ´UNOFFICIAL´ BISHOPS DIE; ONE BURIAL SUBJECTED TO STATE HINDRANCE

Updated: January 24, 1989 05:00 PM GMT
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Two mainland China bishops with no affiliation to the official Chinese Church died in Hebei province in December and January with one burial subjected to government interference, according to a source here.

The Hong Kong-based Church source, who asked not to be named, told UCA News Jan. 24 that the two bishops are Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Zhu Yousan of Baoding and Bishop Francis Zhou Shangfu of Yixian.

Bishop Zhu was born in 1903 in Xushui county, Hebei province, and was ordained a priest in 1930. He became coadjutor bishop in 1984 and had worked in Baoding diocese and Xuzhou diocese in Jiangsu province, according to the source.

Bishop Zhu died Dec. 22, 1988 in Anjiazhuang village, Xushui county, and the source said the "smooth" proceedings of his funeral Dec. 30 drew about 30 priests and 7,000 faithful.

However, the source added that government authorities interfered Jan. 16 with the burial of Bishop Zhou, who had died Jan. 5.

Born in 1915, and ordained a priest in 1944, Bishop Zhou was appointed Yixian vicar general in 1949 and became acting head two years later, the source said.

Jailed from 1955 to 1980, the bishop suffered broken backbones and ribs while undergoing torture, the source said. Vatican-appointed Bishop Peter Joseph Fan Xueyan of Baoding ordained him a bishop in 1981, the source added.

According to the official Catholic Church directory, the Annuario Pontificio, Yixian, about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing, is an apostolic prefecture, but the Chinese Church designated it part of Baoding.

Bishop Zhou´s burial in Chunmuyu village, 35 kilometers from Baoding, was attended by 5,500 faithful including people from the area as well as from Beijing, Tianjin and Xuanhua cities, and from Gansu province, the source said.

Quoting Catholics at the burial, the source said three days before the funeral, Baoding´s public security office closed all bus lines to Chunmuyu, and raised barriers to the only two roads to it.

For days, the source continued, police stopped and checked cars and people from outside and forced them to go back.

Noting that Chunmuyu is a predominantly Catholic village, the source said the command to block incoming people was apparently issued by provincial government authorities.

Car licences in Catholic villages in the whole Baoding district and the nearby districts of Shijiazhuang and Tianjin were temporarily confiscated while villagers were at the same time warned not to attend the funeral, the source said.

Some Catholic groups enroute to the funeral were detained, and the faithful in Chunmuyu as well as Bishop Zhou´s own relatives were forced to change the place of burial, the source added.

The source also said in early January, Xushui county´s public security office had expressed no opinion on Zhou´s burial in Chunmuyu and that Baoding city´s religious affairs office even claimed they would send a wreath.

END

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