Beijing Bishop Pei, 83, Dies; Was Loyal to Rome

Also Esteemed by Faithful of State-Approved Church

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ROME, JAN. 1, 2002 (ZENIT.orgFides).- The Rome-appointed bishop of Beijing, Matthias Pei Shangde, died on Christmas Eve after being hospitalized for months with kidney trouble. He was 83.

He died in Shengxing hospital in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province. He had been under house arrest since April.

A funeral will be held Wednesday in the bishop´s home parish of Zhangjiapu. Police have ordered the Mass closed to those from outside the village.

Born in 1918, Matthias Pei Shangde was one of six children. His parents, who were Catholics, were originally from Zhangjiapu. At age 13 he entered the seminary of the Congregation of the Lord´s Disciples, a Chinese congregation founded by Cardinal Celso Costantini, the first apostolic delegate to Beijing.

Ordained a priest on May 30, 1948, Pei taught at Geng Xin Catholic school in the Beijing Diocese. When the Communists came to power in China in 1950, he was subjected to forced labor, at a Beijing medicine factory.

As a result of the Cultural Revolution, he spent 10 years undergoing “re-education.” He was released in 1980 and returned to Beijing.

He was secretly ordained bishop of Beijing in 1989. Esteem for Bishop Pei among members of the state-approved “patriotic” church increased recently.

At the same time, there was growing criticism of the state-approved bishop of Beijing, Fu Tieshan, for taking part in the illicit ordination of bishops on Jan. 6, 2000, and for his harsh reaction to the canonization of China´s martyrs on Oct. 1, 2000.

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ZENIT Staff

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