ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Jian Mei
Shortly before marking his 93rd birthday, Msgr. Liu Jinghe died in his diocese. Reconciled with the universal Church during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, he spent years in Maoist prisons and labor camps. Once free, he held important positions in the Patriotic Association and the board of bishops not recognized by Rome.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - Retired Bishop Liu Jinghe of Tangshan (Hebei), northern China, died in the evening of Dec. 11, shortly before he turned 93. The funeral of Bishop Liu will take place on Dec. 17.
Legitimized by Pope Benedict XVI in recent years, Bishop Liu refused to take part in the illicit ordination of Guo Jincai in Chengde on Nov. 20, 2010. Bishop Liu "refused adamantly" though pressured by the Chinese authorities in that case, a source from Hebei recalled.
Since November 17, 2010 onwards, he retired. His successor Bishop Fang Jianping has been managing the diocese of Tangshan since 2008.
Born in a Catholic family on Dec. 30, 1920 in Tangshan, Liu entered a minor seminary at the age of 11. In 1945, in Beijing, Bishop Paul Leon Cornelius Montaigne ordained him a priest. Then, Father Liu returned to his own diocese and served at Lulong and Tangshan parishes.
In 1981, he was ordained the bishop of Tangshan without papal mandate. In 1984, he was a founder of the Hebei Seminary. He had been rector of the seminary for years.
According to a blog of Father Peng Jiandao in Hebei, China (http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_500cf6040102elfn.html), as early as in 1946, Father Liu Jinghe was jailed in Lulong and was released in March 1947. On Nov. 13, 1954, Father Liu was jailed again until December 1956. He was released from the Tangshan detention centre. Between 1966 and 1969, he was jailed for the third time. From 1970 to 1979, he was under reform-through-labor in Tangshan areas, working in a textile factory, a quarry and chemical factory.
On the other hand, Bishop Liu was once a "strongman" of the Patriotic Association and bishops' council at national level and in Hebei province. According to a statement at the website of Patriotic Association (www.chinacatholic.cn), Bishop Liu was a vice president of fifth Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (1992-1998) and a vice president of the bishops' council (1998-2004). He held related positions in Hebei. He was a member of the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at national level (1983-2003).
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