ASIA/CHINA - Death of Bishop Filippo Pietro Zhao Zhendong of Xuanhua, tenacious builder of Church unity: just before he died he was studying the recent Papal Letter addressed by Pope Benedict XVI to the Church in China

Monday, 3 September 2007

Xuanhua (Agenzia Fides) - On 13 July after suffering for many years from a serious heart condition and diabetes, Bishop Filippo Pietro Zhao Zhendong of Xuanhua diocese in Hebei Province, mainland China, died the day before his 87th birthday. He was born on 14 July 1920 to non Christian parents and was ordained a Catholic priest on 14 August 1949.
During the Cultural Revolution Zhao was arrested and detained in a labour camp for 18 years. Released in 1982, he returned to work in his diocese. In October 1989 he was ordained a bishop and appointed Ordinary of the diocese of Xuanhua in 1999.
Bishop Zhao was very broadminded and had worked hard to promote the unity of the Church from the day he was ordained a bishop. He is reported to have been , just before he died, the recent Letter which Pope Benedict XVI addressed to the Church in China and had expressed the hope that the Papal Letter might promote unity in his diocese. The deceased Bishop was closely supervised by the authorities all through his life, even towards the end when his health deteriorated.
The Bishop's funeral was held on 21 July with the participation of many Catholics from other dioceses anxious to pay homage to confessor of the faith. To be present for the service they had to apply for special permission from the local authorities. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2007; righe 17, parole 250)