Funeral Authorized for Chinese Underground Bishop

Official and Non-official Prelates to Preside

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HANYANG, China, OCT. 14, 2005 ( The provincial government of Hubei in China has authorized a public funeral for a bishop of the underground Church.

Bishop Peter Chang Bai Ren of Hanyang, 90, who died Wednesday of heart ailments, will be buried by priests in both the official Church and underground Church in China. Members of the underground Church declare allegiance directly to Rome.

The Chinese government allows religious practice only with personnel approved by, and places registered with, the Religious Affairs Office, and under the control of the Patriotic Association.

Bishop Chang will be buried near his birthplace in Zhangjiatai, in the Xiantao district, on Saturday morning, reported AsiaNews.

The bishop had spent 24 years in prison and forced labor camps, 1955-1979, for his loyalty to the Pope.

In the 1980s the government restructured the subdivision of dioceses to make them coincide with provincial structures and government districts, and his diocese became part of the larger Diocese of Wuhan.

Bishop Chang and his four priests continued, however, to serve the faithful to the present time.

Bishop Chang received episcopal consecration in 1986 from Bishop Liu Hede, the non-official head of the Hankou Diocese.

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