Chinese Bishop Peixian Dies at 84

Known to Be of «Official» Church and Loyal to Rome

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ROME, NOV. 5, 2008 ( Bishop Jin Peixian of Liaoning, 84, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was a prelate of the official Chinese Catholic Church, but his episcopal ordination was approved by the Pope.

The archbishop was from the generation of bishops who led the Church through the cultural conflicts that culminated in the 1966-1976 revolution.

The life and work of Bishop Peixian was marked by a careful balance between «his loyalty to the Pope and his acquiescence to national identity» said Anthony Lam Sui-ki, a researcher at the Holy Spirit Study Center of the Diocese of Hong Kong, told Union of Catholic Asian News.

He was named by Chinese authorities as the bishop of Liaoning in 1989, but he ensured that his appointment received approval from the Pope before he was ordained. In 2006, his successor, Bishop Paul Pei Junmin, did the same.

Bishop Peixian was one of the first prelates to receive permission to send some of his priests and religious to study outside of China.

Jin Peixian was born March 16, 1924, and ordained in Shanghai in 1951. Before the end of that decade, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for «counter-revolutionary crimes» and then was sent to be «re-educated through work.» He was unable to return to his priestly ministry until 1980. Nine years later, he was ordained a bishop. He served as the vice president of the bishops’ council of the official Church.

In China, the government permits religious practice only with recognized personnel and in places registered with the Religious Affairs Office and under the control of the Patriotic Association.

This explains the difference affirmed between the «national» or «official» Church, and the faithful who oppose such control and who wish to obey the Pope directly. The latter constitute the non-official, or underground, Church.

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