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from AsiaNews

Authorities in Shanghai allow Masses for the late underground bishop

Masses are being held at the funeral home where the body is on display. Mass was also celebrated at St Ignatius Cathedral, where the faithful placed a catafalque to honour the late underground bishop. Official and underground Catholics have come together to pay their respect to Mgr Fan.

by John Ai

Shanghai (AsiaNews) - The authorities in Shanghai have granted Catholics in the diocese the right to celebrate Masses for their bishop, Mgr Joseph Fan Zhongliang, who died on 16 March.

Mgr Fan, ordinary bishop of Shanghai, belonged to the underground Church, which the government does not recognise.

When his death was announced, the authorities banned the body from being taken to a church, and took him instead to a funeral home where they allowed the faithful to pay their respect from 9 am to 5 pm yesterday and today.

They did eventually allow Masses on the same premises, which is in fact what several priests have being doing since yesterday.

Although the government ordered a low-profile funeral, crowds of the faithful from both the official and underground communities have been coming to the services.

A priest also publicly prayed for Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, bishop of Shanghai, this according to a Catholic who attended Mass.

Since the day of his ordination, Bishop Ma has been under house arrest after quitting the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

Parishioners were also able to get a catafalque placed in St Ignatius Cathedral, the See of the Bishop of Shanghai, where a Mass was celebrated for Mgr Fan as well.