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A year on from suspicious death

BEIJING (AsiaNews): Over the last month, many people have remembered Father Pedro Yu (also known as Wei) Heping (peace), around the first anniversary of the day his family was informed that his body had been found.

Father Yu’s body was discovered on November 8 last year in a river near the city of Taiyuan in Shanxi. Police have doggedly continued to treat his death as a suspected suicide, but the many people who knew him do not believe this.

In addition, even though an autopsy was carried out, Father Yu’s body remains at the morgue.

Father Joseph, from northern China, said, “Father Yu will always be remembered for his contribution to the Chinese Catholic community, especially the unofficial communities.”

He added, “He promoted meetings and contacts between the people and priests in the official and unofficial communities. He organised a series of seminars, including one on the impact of the Second Vatican Council on the Church in China. Catholics from all over the country came to discuss it.”

Father Joseph said that he had taken part in some of the seminars and had learned a lot from them, as well as having the opportunity to meet Catholics from many different parts of China.

Father Yu was also popular among young people and each year he organised a pilgrim walk that would last for days. 

He was able to give young people an understanding of seeking faith and spirituality through learning about the ancient tradition of the Church.

“Although he is no longer with us, some young people, to this day, continue to undertake such initiatives as a way of remembering him,” Father Joseph explained.

Father Yu had studied abroad and used his knowledge to run courses in theology among the unofficial Church communities, as well as to young people, priests, sisters and seminarians.

A documentary on his life shows him among some forgotten Catholic communities in mountainous areas of Yunnan.

Two sisters had put Father Yu on a bus for the railway station in Taiyuan on November 6 last year and one person said that others had spoken to him on the phone later that same day.

But he never arrived in Xingcheng and a sister said that she had received a text message from him containing only one Chinese character—bie—which could be interpreted as meaning farewell.

“No one believes Father Yu, a dedicated priest, would commit suicide,” the person stressed. “But now even a postmortem is not trustworthy.”

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