Underground Bishop Dies at 91

Ended 10-Year Battle With Alzheimer’s

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WENZHOU, China, OCT. 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Underground Bishop James Lin Xili of Wenzhou died Sunday, after an almost 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 91.

UCA News reported Tuesday that the bishop’s funeral is scheduled for Oct. 10, and will be held in Yueqing, located 27 miles outside Wenzhou.

Bishop Lin died on the 17th anniversary of his clandestine ordination, which took place in 1992. He was the first bishop of Wenzhou, although the see had been created in 1949.

The official Church of China never acknowledged his episcopal ordination, and was a constant target of police surveillance. He had been under house arrest when he died.

UCA News reported that a Wenzhou-based Catholic Web site was closed down after it published the bishop’s obituary and photos of his last days.

The death of the bishop almost coincided with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China under Communist rule, which the nation marked Oct. 1.

James Lin Xili was born Oct. 19, 1918, in Yueqing. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Ningbo, and studied at Fu Jen Catholic University in Beijing until 1948.

He returned to his diocese to do pastoral work until 1955, when he was arrested for «counter-revolutionary crimes.» The priest served 16 years in prison, and was released in 1971.

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