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One of first illicitly ordained bishops dies

BEIJING (AsiaNews): One of the first of eight priests to be ordained a bishop illicitly under the self-elect, self-determination principle of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in the late 1950s, Bishop Anthony Tu Shihua, died on the morning of January 4 in Beijing at the age of 98.

Believed to be among the illicitly ordained bishops whom Pope Francis was considering giving recognition to, Bishop Tu was ordained without a papal mandate on 15 August 1959 as the bishop of Hanyang in Hubei province, later moving to Puqi, in the same province, in 2001.

Born in Hubei on 22 November 1919, Bishop Tu had lived in Beijing and worked in the head office of the Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China.

An obituary from the Patriotic Association and bishops’ conference dated January 4 names him as a former long time leader of the association and the conference, as well as rector of the National Seminary in Beijing from 1983 to 1992.

Born into a Catholic family in Mianyang, he studied at the Hankou seminary from 1931 to 1943, prior to finishing his studies in Beijing. He was ordained a priest in April 1944.

The obituary names him as a standing committee member of the Patriotic Association in 1962, but when Church activities were revived after the Cultural Revolution (1966 to 1976), he was promoted to vice chairperson of the National Committee of the Patriotic Association in 1980, serving further terms in 1986, 1992 and 1998.

In 1986, he was the vice president of the bishops’ conference and in 2004 was appointed as an adviser to the Patriotic Association and the conference.

The obituary says he enjoyed studying philosophy and was fluent in several languages, publishing articles, as well as translating books. It also notes that he had trained clergy to be patriotic and to love the Church.

He was a frequent contributor to The Catholic Church in China, an official magazine of the two government-sanctioned Church bodies.

He wrote a leading article for the first issue of the magazine in 1980.


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