China, Bishop Dies In Communist Prison?

Article from Asia News “The underground bishop of Yixian disappeared in police custody in 2001. In late January (2015) news of his death spread. But authorities denied the reports. Family members await his corpse or ashes. The long list of underground bishops who have died in prison after torture. The government is terrified of possible demonstrations at his funeral. The visit of Yu Zhengsheng, “number four” from Baoding Politburo. Out of his 93 years of life, Bishop Shi spent 54 years in prison because of his fidelity to the Church and the Pope.

Cosma_Shi_EnxiangPhoto From AsiaNews

Who is Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang

Msgr. Shi was born April 17, 1922 in Shizhuang (Hebei). On 14 August 1947 he was ordained a priest in the Apostolic Prefecture of Yixian, two years after Mao Zedong took power and began to implement a policy of control of the Church, emphasizing the urgent need for all Catholics to express their patriotism, becoming independent from the rest Church and breaking bonds with the pontiff. Fr. Shi, was arrested for the first time in 1954 because of his stubborn fidelity to the Pope. In 1957 he was sentenced to hard labor in the freezing region of Heilonjiang first, then in the coal mines in Shanxi. Released in 1980, he dedicated his life to evangelization and supporting the faithful in Hebei.

On 24 June 1982, Msgr. Zhou Fangji consecrated him bishop in secret and his clandestine episcopal ministry began. In 1987 he was arrested and placed under house arrest for two years.

In 1989, there were hopes for a new opening in society and in the Church in China. But the Tiananmen massacre in June dealt them a cruel blow. The underground bishops, who on 21 November of that year had formed a bishops’ conference, were all arrested along with many priests. They included Msgr. Cosma Shi. Within a few weeks five bishops and 14 priests were swallowed up by the regime’s prison system, released only in 1993, thanks to an international pressure campaign. On 13 April 2001, the bishop was arrested again and disappeared into thin air. Up until now when the news of his death spread like wildfire only to be later denied. Where he died, how and when will remain a mystery that only the Chinese Communist Party knows.

A Yixian faithful told AsiaNews: “We just want his body or his ashes, and we want to give a proper burial to this martyr of the faith”, who spent 54 years (more than half of his life) in prison. But in China the dead are as frightening as the living, if not even more so.”