Leshan bishop dies at 90

2009-12-08 17:40:14
Bishop Matthew Luo Duxi of Leshan (Kiating) in Sichuan province died of heart disease on Dec. 4. The Vatican-approved prelate was 90.

Bishop Matthew Luo Duxi of Leshan (left) celebrates his 89th birthday last year with Bishop Paul He Zeqing of Wanzhou

Bishop Paul He Zeqing of Wanzhou (Wanxian), from neighboring Chongqing municipality, presided at the Dec. 7 funeral Mass, held at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Chailou village. Local priests as well as priests from the other four dioceses in Sichuan -- Chengdu, Nanchong, Xichang and Yibin -- concelebrated the Mass. After the funeral, Bishop Luo´s body was buried at the Catholic cemetery behind the church, located at the foot of Mount Emei, a mountain in southwestern China sacred to Buddhists. A middle-aged Chailou parishioner surnamed Liu told UCA News Bishop Luo had devoted himself to the diocese´s development and had shown concern for every Catholic, especially those who were poor. "Our Church affairs will become difficult and inconvenient without a bishop, especially when the priests have to make important decisions and ordain new priests," she said. The entire province needs new Church leaders, as the only remaining bishop is Bishop John Chen Shizhong of Yibin, 92, who is ailing, Liu added. Leshan diocese has 16 priests and 70,000 lay Catholics. Father Paul Lei Shiyin, ordained a priest in 1991, has been managing the diocese since Bishop Luo´s health deteriorated in recent years. He told UCA News the diocese set up a management committee on Dec. 8. The priest is one of the 10 vice chairmen of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, and one of seven Catholic members of the Chinese People´s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the Chinese government´s top advisory body. Bishop Luo was born in 1919 and completed his seminary studies in the Annunciation Seminary in Chengdu diocese in 1956, according to the diocesan obituary. However, he became a farmer during the decades of political turmoil starting in the 1950s and was ordained a priest only in 1983, at the age of 64. He was made Leshan vicar general two years later. In 1993, he became the first bishop of Leshan to be elected and ordained by the government-approved Church community. He received recognition from the Vatican later.
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