Friday, 16 March 2007

Mgr Anthony Li Duan

I just tried to Google a picture of the church I used to attend in China, and was saddened to see that 'my' bishop died last year. Archbishop Li was a holy, humble and courageous man who was recognised by both the universal Church and the Chinese Patriotic Church. He was hugely respected by many people, including Pope John Paul II, and his passing is a great loss to the Church in China.

May he rest in peace.

Mgr Anthony Li Duan

13 June 1927 - 25 May 2006

Requiescat in pacem

"He was steadfast on the principles of the Catholic faith and did his utmost to dialogue with everyone, always looking for points of agreement and spaces useful for pronouncing the Gospel. He was firm on the principles, serene and meek in giving the reasons for his faith and always respectful to others."
(L'Osservatore Romano - official Vatican newspaper - 1 June 2006)

There's a lovely description of his work and of his funeral here.

And here are a couple of other articles I found about him:

Mgr Anthony Li Duan (Profile - 9/8/2005)
Mgr Anthony Li Duan is one of the most prominent figures of the Chinese Catholic Church. Born on June 13, 1927, he has served as the Archbishop of Xian (Shaanxi) since 1987 and is known for his loyalty to the Holy See. Archbishop Li has steadfastly defended the freedom of the Church against the claims and attempts at control of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA). Yet, he is loved and held in high regard by both the official and the underground Church.

For this reason, he has often been subjected to controls and interrogations. In the past, he has been detained on several occasions for long periods of time: 1954-57, 1958-60, and 1966-79.

In his many years as a clergyman he has distinguished himself for his active pastoral work and his determined defence of the rights and freedoms of the Church.
As a pastor he has been prudent but courageous and open to working with government authorities without compromising his views on fundamental matters of faith and the rights of the Church.

He refused for example to take part in Beijing's illegitimate consecration of five bishops on January 6, 2000. He also refused to go along with the political campaign against the canonisation of 120 Chinese martyrs.

The Archbishop is vice chairman of the Council of the Chinese Catholic Church. Many have speculated that he might be the cardinal in pectore whose identity John Paul II never revealed.

Publicly though, he has said that he has "never received any official confirmation" to that effect.

Active and determined, Archbishop Li opened the first Catholic Social Service Centre in 2002.

Back in 1997 he inaugurated a training division for women religious at the Xian Regional Seminary.

In an interviewed published last year in Mondo Missione (PIME'S monthly magazine) and then by AsiaNews, the Archbishop of Xian acknowledged that "the election and consecration of bishops" remains the main obstacle to diplomatic relations between Beijing and the Vatican. "Indeed there are difficulties, yet it must be also said that great steps have been taken in the right direction." For instance, in his own diocese, Mgr Anthony Dang Mingyan, 38, was consecrated new auxiliary bishop last July 26 with approval of both Vatican and Beijing.

In 2004, he was diagnosed with cancer and has been undergoing therapy in hospital.
The diocese of Xian has about 20,000 faithful and, during the Cultural Revolution, St Francis Cathedral was turned into a candy factory.

Mgr Anthony Li Duan, archbishop of Xian, dies at the age of 79

Rome (AsiaNews) - Mgr Anthony Li Duan, archbishop of Xian, one of the most important figures in today's Chinese Church died on Wednesday May 24 at 9.17 pm Rome time (Thursday May 25 at 03.17 Beijing time). The 79-year-old prelate had been fighting liver cancer for the past two years and had spent long stretches of
time in hospital for treatment.

Archbishop Li was one of the four Chinese bishops Pope Benedict XVI invited in October of last year to the Synod on the Eucharist. His Catholic witness was known throughout the universal Church.

Member of the official Church but also supporter and friend of pontiffs, Mgr Li strongly backed reconciliation between the official Church on the one hand, and Rome and the underground Church on the other.

Well appreciated by intellectuals and political leaders alike, including non Christians, he rebuilt the Church in Xian (Shaanxi) after the disasters wrought by the Cultural Revolution. In doing so he strengthened local Christian communities and religious schools in terms of their charity work and theological studies. His diocese now includes 59 priests, 300 women religious and 20,000 faithful.

Last year Anthony Dang Mingyan, 38, was appointed as the diocese's coadjiutor bishop with the Pope's approval.

Last week in the midst of the heated debate over the unlawful appointments of bishops wanted by the Patriotic Association, AsiaNews published an interview with Archbishop Li, who was hopeful that it would not be long before China and the Vatican established diplomatic relations. (Source)

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