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Jin Luxian, 96; bishop revived Shanghai church

Catholic bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian May 23, 2006.

ROLF VENNENBERND/EPA

Catholic bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian May 23, 2006.

BEIJING — Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian — who revived the Catholic church in Shanghai, China’s financial hub, after years of Maoist persecution — has died. He was 96.

Bishop Jin’s death Saturday leaves one of China’s largest dioceses in a deeply unsettled state, underscoring continuing tensions generated by the ruling Communist Party’s insistence on tightly controlling all organized religions.

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Bishop Jin’s anointed successor as acting bishop, Joseph Xing Wenzhi, resigned last year for reasons still unclear, and his replacement, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, was placed under house arrest after enraging party officials by renouncing his membership in the party-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association.

Born into a Catholic family in Shanghai, Bishop Jin was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1938 and spent several years studying in Europe. Returning to Shanghai in 1951, Bishop Jin was imprisoned for nearly two decades under Communist China’s founder, Mao Zedong, who ordered Catholics to cut their ties with the Vatican and jailed hundreds of priests and nuns as counterrevolutionaries.

Bishop Jin was paroled in 1972 and put to work as a translator based on his knowledge of European languages. Following Mao’s death in 1976, he was formally released and named Shanghai bishop in 1988 by the Patriotic Association. Although the Vatican recognized another priest as bishop, Bishop Jin worked tirelessly to recover church property and rebuild congregations, achieving a remarkable degree of independence from the authorities in Beijing.

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