2006-05-25 14:19:05

Archbishop Anthony Li Duan of Xian in China, dies at the age of 79

(May 25, 2006) : Archbishop Anthony Li Duan of Xian in China, one of the most important figures in today’s Chinese Church died on Wednesday May 24. 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, approved by the Vatican and recognized by the Chinese government, was one of the four Chinese bishops invited by Pope Benedict XVI to the Synod of Bishops held at the Vatican in October 2005. However, due to Chinese government’s restrictions, none of the four was able to attend. Archbishop Li’s Catholic witness was known throughout the universal Church. Member of the official Church but also supporter and friend of pontiffs, Archbishop Li strongly backed reconciliation between the official Church, Rome and the underground Church. 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 Fr. Anthony Dang Mingyan, 38, was appointed as the diocese’s auxiliary bishop with the Pope’s approval.

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