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China: Living in hiding the last 16 years of his life, underground Catholic bishop dies at 94

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

He had escaped house arrest to spend the remaining 16 years of his life in hiding. Former acting president of the "underground" Church community's bishops' conference, Retired Bishop Peter Liu Guandong of Yixian, died late last month at the age of 94.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Church sources in Yixian, Hebei province, the Vatican-approved bishop was interred in secret October 29 by priests and laypeople.

One priest, speaking on the condition of anonymity said that Bishop Liu was "a key figure" in the establishment of the bishops' conference in 1989, which "contributed to the continual existence in China of a Church that is loyal to the Holy See."

Bishop Liu was born in 1919. He entered the seminary in 1935 and was ordained a priest in 1945. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1955 for two years for opposing the independent Church movement.

He was arrested again in 1958 and received a life sentence for opposing the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is a government-sanctioned body that promotes an independent Church. He was eventually released in 1981 and began to evangelize across China.

Liu was consecrated coadjutor bishop of Yixian in 1982 and became the ordinary four years later. Suffering a stroke in 1994, he resigned from all his posts. He was then placed under house arrest in Weigezhuang, his hometown.

Unable to take care of himself in 1997, several priests managed to sneak him past his guards and rescue him from house arrest. He spent his remaining years in hiding, the sources said.

His successor Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang was detained by the authorities in 2001. He has not been seen since.

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