Underground Catholic bishop dies in China

Bishop Andrew Han Jingtao | Courtesy: AsiaNews.it

CNA Staff, Dec 31, 2020 / 03:25 pm (CNA).- According to the Catholic outlet AsiaNews, headquartered in Rome, Bishop Andrea Han Jingtao, 99, a leader in the underground Catholic Church in China, died Dec. 30. Han Jingtao was the underground Bishop of Siping.

In his early years growing up in a Catholic family, Han received a high-quality formation and education from the Canadian missionaries of Quebec, who ran the apostolic vicariate in his region of China before the communist revolution.

After Mao Zedong took power, the late bishop was sent to a concentration camp where he would be imprisoned for 27 years (1953-1980) “for refusing to participate in the ‘independent and autonomous’ Church, as Mao Zedong wanted,” AsiaNews reports.

Once freed, his command of the English language made him an asset for the communist regime, which conscripted him into service as an English teacher at Changchun University and then at the Northeast University for masters and doctoral programs. According to AsiaNews, “He introduced many Chinese to the study of Classical, Latin, and Greek languages and cultures.”

After his academic retirement in 1987, he dedicated his pastoral efforts to the local Legion of Mary and the religious congregation he founded, The Sisters of Mount Calvary.

According to AsiaNews. “He himself recalls that in the 1950s the regime wanted to ‘get rid of the pope’s interference and expel foreign missionaries. At that time, I realized that the Church was facing a great challenge and needed strong stamina, otherwise the Church would not be able to stand up. This is why I decided to set up a religious congregation.'”

He was secretly appointed bishop of Siping in 1982, but his underground ordination could only happen in 1986.

After being put under strict house surveillance in 1997, he continued to tend his flock under constant threat, convening secret gatherings and encouraging the laity to remain steadfast in faith and charity.

According to recent statistics provided by AsiaNews, his diocese includes some 30,000 Catholics, two-thirds of which belong to the underground Church. It has 20 priests and more than 100 nuns.

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  1. Bishop Andrea Han Jingtao is one of our great Catholic hierarchy. An example to the rest. His steel will to remain true to Christ during his ordeal under Communism is a rebuke of our current Vatican accommodation and its disgraceful lack of leadership, perhaps better said, betrayal for the Church under trial. Men like Cardinal Zen and Bishop Jingtao are our true leaders who stood by the Cross under Antichrist types Mao Zedong, Xi Ping. Catholics who remain faithful to the Apostolic faith and the Chair of Peter, not its misrepresentation are suffering similarly. 2020 was a severe trial, 2021 may be a crossroad for spiritual martyrdom like the Church in China, or a hopeful perhaps miraculous return to a revitalized faith. My sense is each of us can play a role in realization of the latter. Despite evil, grace is always at work. Prayer, sacrifice works. If some are perplexed over choice of a Cummunio or more enlightened version of Catholicism Christ did not reveal the Gospels under condition of necessary addendums. Return to Cross as did Bishop Andrea Han Jingtao.

  2. Respectful farewell to Bishop Andrea Han Jingtao. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let your perpetual light shine upon the departed soul.

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