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Death of prelate illustrates complicated situation of bishops in China


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HONG KONG (CNS) -- A Chinese bishop who avoided government intervention in the affairs of his diocese died without having his Vatican-appointed successor officially ordained, illustrating some of the complications of the situation of bishops in China.

Ucanews.com reported that Vatican-approved Bishop John Liu Shigong of Jining (Wumeng), in the northern Inner Mongolia autonomous region, died June 9 after being diagnosed with liver cancer in May. The 89-year-old was the fourth bishop to die in China this year. A funeral for the bishop was scheduled for June 15, to be celebrated by Bishop Meng Qinglu of Hohhot, ucanews.com reported.

It is believed that in 2010, the Vatican appointed Father Anthony Yao Shun, vicar general of the diocese, as Bishop Liu's successor. Father Yao was ordained a priest in Jining in 1991 and in 1996 graduated from St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota. The 52-year-old is considered a liturgy expert in China.

Soon after the Vatican appointment, Father Yao returned to the diocese from Beijing, where he taught at the National Seminary, and began managing church affairs in place of the bishop, said a church source who asked not to be named.

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