BISHOP Paul Liu Shuhe was one of the leading bishops of the much-persecuted Catholic Church in China that retains its loyalty to the Pope and refuses to acknowledge the authority of the government-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association.
He was elected in absentia secretary general of the bishops' conference, founded in secret by Catholic bishops in China in November 1989. He was also assistant bishop of Yuxian, taking over responsibility for the diocese on the arrest of Bishop Liu Guangdong in late 1989. Like many clerics of the Vatican-loyal Church, the biggest illegal religious group in the world, he suffered years of imprisonment, harassment and restrictions.
Liu was born in 1919, and was ordained priest in 1943. After the Communist takeover of China and the suppression of the Vatican-loyal Church, he was arrested. He spent 22 years in prison and was not released until 1980.
Two years later he was consecrated bishop, involving himself in secret religious work, including the training of seminarians and publishing. In October 1988 he was re-imprisoned after meeting a visiting Western priest, but after two and a half months was transferred to house arrest because of ill-health. He was detained again in December 1990 as the authorities stepped up their campaign to force Vatican-loyal clerics to transfer their allegiance to the CPA.
Liu walked out of detention in an old people's home at Easter 1992 because he was not being given medical treatment. He lived in hiding, unable to seek medical attention as he was now wanted by the Public Security Bureau.