Bengbu (Fides Service) - Bishop Joseph Zhu Huayu of Bengbu diocese in the province of Anhui in mainland China died on Saturday 26 February 2005 at the age of 88 after a long illness. He was the only Bishop in the province of Anhui. He was born in Xingtai/Weixian, Hebei, ordained a priest in 1947 and made a bishop in 1986.
The province of Anhui situated in the middle course of the River Yangtze and in the inferior Huai represents the hinterland of the more prosperous provinces on the Jiangsu and Zhejiang coasts, and is traditionally the poorest of eastern China, which explains why people emigrate to richer areas. The province has a total area of 139,427 sq. km mostly mountainous and hilly land. It has a population of 63.25 million and the population density is high: 454 per square kilometre and its distribution unbalanced since most people live in the urban areas.
In the three dioceses in the province (Bengbu, Wuhu and Anqing) there are about 20 priests who look after 70,000 Catholics concentrated mainly in Bengbu where the community counts 50,000 Catholics. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 19/4/2005 - Righe 15; Parole 204)