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Bishop of Qingdao dead at 94

ROME (AsiaNews): Bishop Joseph Li Mingshu of Qingdao, Shandong province, died on June 15 at the age of 94. News of his passing was reported by the diocese, a date for his funeral had yet to be set at the date of going to press.
 
He is remembered as fearful and obedient to the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, although in 2005, he invited Sister Nirmala Joshi, superior of the Missionaries of Charity, to visit Qingdao to study the possibility of opening a house in the diocese and invited her to write to the Chinese authorities for permission. The letter has never been answered.
 
The various stages of Bishop Li’s life are noted in the obituary released to the press. However, silence shrouds the period from 1953 to 1978, covering the period of the expelling of non-Chinese missionaries and the Cultural Revolution. It is likely that he was sent to forced labour camps at that time, like many priests throughout China. 
 
Bishop Li was born in December 1924 in the village of Lijia in Shandong. He attended Puide Secondary School in Zhoucun, and Zhoucun Minor Seminary. Between 1943 and 1949 he studied in the major seminary of Jinan and then in Wuhan, Hubei province. 
 
He was ordained a priest on 11 April 1949, in Wuhan Cathedral, then worked in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, between 1949 and 1953, also teaching in primary and secondary schools.
 
From 1978 until 1986 he taught educational science at a teacher training college and English in a high school in Boxing, Shandong. From 1986 to 1994 he was vice-principal for studies in the Holy Spirit seminary in Shandong. He was then appointed diocesan administrator in Qingdao and on 13 August 2000, was ordained bishop with a mandate from the Holy See. From 2000 to 2005 he was vice-rector of the Beijing National Seminary.
 
At his ordination, Bishop Li declared that he wanted to strengthen new means of evangelisation for his diocese, forming lay leaders, developing adult catechism classes and maintaining communion with the universal Church.
 
However the people who served under him say that he was a fearful person who advised everyone to “obey the Patriotic Association.
 
According to some observers, deference to the Patriotic Association was due to and powerful presence of Antonio Liu Bainian, the long-time secretary and then president of the Patriotic Association, who is also a native of Shandong.
 
The diocese of Qingdao has about twenty priests and two women’s religious congregations.

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