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Chinese flag at a Catholic church.JPG
Reuters
Chinese flag at a Catholic church.JPG
Reuters
World News

Bishop who help revive the Church in China dies aged 91

by Kelly Valencia

A Catholic bishop who played a vital role in rebuilding the Church in northwest China has died, aged 91. 

Bishop John Baptist Ye Ronghua served as the diocesan administrator of Ankang from 1987 to 2000. In 2000 he became the first Catholic bishop of Ankang and was recognised by the Vatican and the Chinese government. 

Bishop John had been born into a Catholic family and studied in seminaries run by Italian Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. He finished his studies in 1958 but wasn't ordained until 1982 due to political movements targeting the Church. 

He was in fact forced into a labour camp for "re-education" after being called a "counterrevolutionary" during the launch of the Chinese Communist Party's Cultural Revolution - a cultural movement that saw church properties confiscated, destroyed and priests arrested. 

But from his ordination as priest, Bishop John continued Bishop Anthony Li Du'an of Xi'an's work of restoring churches and ordaining priests in the area. 

Despite his poor health, he continued to revive the local church with a small catholic community. 

The Catholic church in China has its main presence in the in north and central regions of the country. 

It's understood there are at least one million Catholics in China.

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