Chinese priest valued by open and underground church dies

Light of truth

An elderly Chinese priest who died following an accident at a construction site has been remembered by both open and underground Catho-lic communities in Wenzh-ou Diocese as an upright man who put the interests of the church first.

Fr Thaddaeus Sun Zhenhua died of serious injuries during a pastoral trip when the accident occurred on a pier in Yongjia, Zhejiang province in eastern China on Nov. 2. He was 83.

Fr Sun was an “open” church priest in Wehzhou Diocese who also gained respect from priests and Catholics of the underground church because he obstructed a delegate from the Bishops Con-ference of Catholic Church in China and Chinese Patriotic Association from reading an appointment letter during Bishop Zhu Weifang’s installation in 2010. Usually it is the pope who appoints bishops but under pressure from the government, open church bishops in China typically only dare to read the pope’s appointment letter secretly or to a small group, while the government’s appointment letter is read publicly.

Fr Sun’s courage earned him praise from Catholics, but also resulted in him being detained by the authorities.

Fr Sun also wrote letters to state leaders during the gover-nance of Hu Jintao to express his opinion on the state policies regarding the Catholic Church.

Although some senior clerics regarded such behavior impe-tuous and rash, they admitted that his intention was for safeguarding the Catholic Church’s interests.

Thomas, an open church Catholic, said that Fr Sun ignored the consequences to safeguard the church. “To do what he believed is right to do. Although it was not easy, he was right,” Thomas told ucanews.com.

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