Joseph Fan Zhongliang: Jesuit who suffered decades of imprisonment and persecution as Shanghai's underground bishop
Wednesday 19 March 2014
The underground bishop of Shanghai, Joseph Fan Zhongliang, died at the age of 97 following decades of imprisonment and house arrest. In death, as in life, he suffered persecution: officials in Shanghai turned down a request to hold his funeral at the city's cathedral and would only permit a small service at a funeral home.
Fan was appointed bishop of Shanghai – one of China's largest and wealthiest dioceses – by Pope John Paul II in 2000, but was refused recognition by the Communist Party-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association which oversees the church in China. Fan was immediately placed under house arrest and another priest, Aloysius Jin Luxian, was named bishop.
China's officially atheistic rulers reject the Vatican's insistence on the right to appoint bishops and the two sides have no formal ties. China has an estimated 8-12 million Catholics, around half of whom worship in congregations outside the control of the Catholic Patriotic Association.
Jin's successor, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, has not been seen in public since being taken into custody in 2012 after declaring his withdrawal from the Catholic Patriotic Association at his ordination ceremony, shocking and angering officials. He is believed to be held at Shanghai's Sheshan Seminary.
Although Beijing later rescinded Ma's appointment, Joseph Kung, the president of the Kung Foundation, which seeks to promote the Catholic Church in China. said Fan's death reinforced the need for Ma's release and return to pastoral duties, a move which would finally unite the government-approved and underground congregations. "By reinstating Bishop Ma to his rightful office, China will be taking an important step forward in honouring religious freedom, a right that is guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution," Kung said in a statement.
Born in 1918, Fan was baptised a Catholic at the age of 14 in 1932 and ordained a Jesuit priest in 1951, two years after the Communists seized power. Arrested in 1955 after Mao Zedong ordered Chinese Catholics to cut all ties with the Vatican, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for counter-revolutionary crimes and forced to work at a labour camp mortuary in the remote western province of Qinghai.
After finishing his sentence, Fan was assigned to teach at a school for the children of party officials. He was permitted to return to Shanghai in 1985 under the reforms of Deng Xiaoping but he still suffered harrassment, having his flat ransacked and being arrested many times.
Joseph Fan Zhongliang, priest: born Shanghai 18 December 1918; died Shanghai 16 March 2014.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...