Chinese Bishop Liu Dies at 90

Had Reconciled with Leader of State-Approved Church

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ROME. DEC. 16, 2001 (ZENIT.orgFides).- Bishop Odorico Liu Ho-teh of Hankou died Dec. 10 in a Wuhan hospital after a fall. He was 90.

He was not recognized as bishop by the Communist regime. His funeral was presided over last Thursday by state-recognized Bishop Bernardino Dong Guangqing, of the Diocese of Hankou, in the Hubei region.

Bishop Liu came out of his clandestine situation in the early 1990s and was reconciled with the official bishop, a Franciscan confrere. Although never recognized by the government as a bishop, all the faithful and several state officials used the title when they referred to him.

Bishop Liu´s ashes were buried in the diocesan cemetery, on a site which belonged to the diocesan seminary before the Cultural Revolution.

Liu was born in 1910. He entered the Franciscan order in 1929 and was ordained a priest in 1936. He was appointed vicar general of Hankou in 1950, a year after the Communists gained control of the country.

He distinguished himself with other priests and religious of the diocese in resisting the establishment of the Patriotic Association. After the Italian-born bishop of Hankou was expelled on Oct. 2, 1952, Odorico Liu and other priests were subjected temporarily to prison, interrogation and obstacles. On Sept. 14, 1954, he was arrested with seven colleagues.

In 1957 Father Bernardino Dong participated in the National Congress in Peking when the Patriotic Association was established and in 1958 he was one of the first bishops to be ordained without approval from Rome. In the meantime, on Feb. 8, 1958, Father Liu was condemned to 20 years prison, forced labor, and three years´ loss of civil rights.

In the 1990s Liu and Anthony Yang — clandestinely ordained bishops in the 1980s — decided to be reconciled with their brother bishop of the state-approved church, Dong.

Bishop Odorico Liu was appointed spiritual director at the regional seminary for South China in Wuchang, and Bishop Yang took up residence at Hankou Cathedral where he had been parish priest for years before being sent to prison. He died at the cathedral in December 1999.

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