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05/12/2020 China (International Christian Concern) – Chinese officials imposed restrictions on the funeral of 98-year-old Bishop Joseph Zhu Baoyu of Nanyang, Henan province.

Only 40 people were allowed to attend the May 9 funeral in Henan province. People were being watched and parishioners were banned from taking photographs of the service.

Bishop Zhu was tested positive for COVID-19 in February, and became the eldest recovered patient in China. His recovery was reported in China’s state media People’s Daily.

According to UCA News, bishop Zhu was imprisoned by communist authorities and suffered “reform through hard labor” for nearly 20 years after his ordination as a priest in 1957. Bishop Zhu was secretly ordained as coadjutor bishop of Nanyang Diocese at the age of 73. He became bishop of Nanyang on Nov. 21, 2002, at the age of 81.

The government did not allow the diocese to hold a solemn funeral for Bishop Zhu, nor did anyone from outside attend it, limiting crowds in the name of fighting the spread of Coronavirus.

But a local parishioner John said the government controlled the funeral, with plainclothes police among the people present.

He added that the ban on taking pictures had “nothing to do with the epidemic. Officials may be afraid that our photos will give away information. But it’s not like the bishop’s funeral is a secret, unless they have some other plans in their mind.”

The Chinese government often deliberately downplays the importance and reverence of unofficial Catholic clergy, since they pledge their loyalty to the Vatican, not to the Party.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]