Underground Bishop Peter Chang Dies

Spent 24 Years in Prison for Loyalty to Pope

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STAMFORD, Connecticut, OCT. 12, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Bishop Peter Chang Bai Ren, the underground Catholic prelate of Hanyang in Hubei province, died of heart ailments, a U.S.-based watchdog group said. He was 90.

Peter Chang Bai Ren was born in February 1915, entered minor seminary in 1926, studied at the Pontificio Collegio Urbano in Rome from 1937-1945. There, he was awarded a doctorate in theology.

He was ordained a priest in December 1942.

According to the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation, the bishop recalled in his writings in 1997:

“When I took charge of the diocese of Hanyang on Jan. 16, 1953, […] I solemnly offered my diocese to the Immaculate Heart [of Mary] and asked her to grant us two favors: 1) that our diocese be exempted from the pestilence of religious reformation against the Pope in Rome, and 2) that I, the weakest of all men, be not a Judas.

“Forty-five years of severe persecution has passed since we offered our diocese to the Immaculate Heart. The facts proved that the Immaculate Heart has kindly granted us the two favors we had asked.”

Father Chang was consecrated a bishop in 1986. He was imprisoned from 1955 to 1979 by Chinese authorities for his allegiance to the Pope.

He wrote again in 1997: “On Sept. 13, 1955, when policemen, with their guns pointing at me, blustered and threatened me to get me to renounce the Pope in Rome, I told them bluntly, ‘Shoot me dead, but I will not renounce the Pope.’ I was not shot, but spent 24 hard years in prison and slave labor camp.”

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