Tight control for Chinese underground bishop’s funeral

Light of truth

The funeral of a Chinese underground bishop was held under strict government control and underground priests were only allowed to attend part of it.

Bishop Stephen Li Side of Tianjin died at the age of 92 on June 8 after suffering a stroke in mid-May and being admitted to a hospital in Ji County.

Underground Coadjutor Bishop Shi Hongzhen, who will eventually succeed Bishop Li, was not allowed to attend his funeral on June 10. A source said Bishop Shi had been under 24-hour surveillance by local authorities who had restricted his movement.

State-sanctioned Tianjin Catholic Patriotic Association was put in charge of the funeral. When underground priests asked officials to allow Bishop Shi to hold the ceremony, the request was rejected because Bishop Li and Bishop Shi were not recognized by the government.

However, underground priests were allowed to organize a requiem Mass held by senior underground priest Father Yang Wanyuan at a funeral home, but laypeople and the taking of photographs were banned.

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