Bishop a 'great patriot'

Updated: 2007-04-23 06:50

The head of the country's Catholic church, Fu Tieshan, was an "outstanding patriotic religious leader", a senior Chinese religious affairs official said.

In an article published yesterday, State Administration of Religious Affairs director Ye Xiaowen says he was shocked when he heard about Fu's death on Friday, even though he was prepared for the news because the 76-year-old bishop had been suffering from a chronic illness.

Fu was the chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, acting chairman of the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church of China and bishop of the Beijing Catholic Diocese. He was also a vice-chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

In a statement, the Communist Party of China (CPC) described him as a distinguished patriotic religious leader, a well-known social activist and a close friend of the Party.

"Fu's health had been bad since last year," Ye wrote. He used to visit Fu almost every week, mostly in hospital, to seek advice on religious affairs administration and the development of the Catholic church.

Recalling Fu's devotion to his cause even during his last days, Ye wrote: "Bishop Fu gave his life for the motherland and for his beloved religion. He carried out his religious mission with selfless passion for the country, for the people and for the church."

Fu was born in Qingyuan County in North China's Hebei Province in November 1931, and studied philosophy and theology in Beijing's monasteries. He became the first ordained and consecrated bishop after China began its reforms.

China Daily-Xinhua

(China Daily 04/23/2007 page1)