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Chinese bishop who spent years in labour camps dies

10 May 2016 | by Catholic News Service

Bishop Thomas Zhang Huaixin was the first Chinese bishop with dual approval from China and the Vatican

The Chinese bishop who spent six years in labour camps on account of his faith and worked for over 20 years without government recognition to avoid having to join a state-approved organisation, has died aged 90.

Bishop Thomas Zhang Huaixin of Anyang only agreed to be openly installed as a bishop in 2004 once he was certain he could accept government recognition without joining the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. The state-approved organisation set up by the Communist government to supervise Chinese Catholics, has been repeatedly condemned by the Vatican.

Ucanews.com reported that Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Zhang Yinlin, 45, automatically succeeds him, according to canon law. The young prelate was the first Chinese bishop with dual approval from China and the Vatican since 2012.

The funeral Mass for Bishop Zhang Huaixin will be celebrated in the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Anyang May 14.

Bishop Zhang Huaixin was born 23 May, 1925, and was ordained in 1950. He was deemed a “rightist” by the government in 1958, spending six years in labour camps, and suffered for his faith during the political turmoil that lasted for decades until 1978.

After his government rehabilitation in 1980, he was secretly ordained bishop of Anyang the following year and lived and worked without government recognition.

In 2004, once he was certain he could accept government recognition without joining the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, he agreed to be openly installed as bishop, AsiaNews reported at the time.

Anyang Diocese now has 30 priests and 129 nuns from St Joseph Convent; they serve 50,000 Catholics.

 

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