Chinese priest found dead in mysterious circumstances
On 11 Nov the family of Father Pedro Yu Heping, also known as Wei Heping, were informed by Chinese police that he was found dead.
The circumstances surrounding his death are mysterious. Father Yu’s body was found on 8 Nov in the Fen River, a tributary of the Yellow River that flows through Shanxi province. Two nuns saw Father Yu off for a bus to the train station the day before. Various church members spoke to him over the phone that day. He was due to arrive in Xingcheng in northeastern Liaoning province to join a catechetical meeting on the afternoon of 7 Nov day but did not turn up at the meeting.
Chinese Church leaders and the priest’s friends have gone to Taiyuan, Shanxi’s provincial capital, where his body was found, to try and get more information. “Now even a postmortem is not trustworthy” said a source, who asked to remain anonymous.
Father Pedro Yu Heping was an underground priest born in Shanxi forty years ago. He studied at Baoding Seminary of the Chinese Catholic underground community in Hebei province from 1993 until 1997and was ordained a priest of Ningxia diocese in 2004.
He was the first webmaster of Tianzhujiao Zaixian, a popular Catholic news website established in early 2000 that brought the latest translated news from the Vatican. However, the website’s popularity incurred the disapproval of the Chinese authorities and it was subsequently shut down.
Although he was no longer involved with the website when it reopened in 2003, Fr Yu taught in several Chinese seminaries, recently published a theological journal and conducted research at several cultural institutes. He also sent young Catholics to preach and serve parishes in remote areas.