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Chinese priest loyal to Vatican dies at 90

Monsignor Odorico Liu Ho-Teh, a Chinese vicar general loyal to the Vatican has died at the age of 90.

Monsignor Liu helped bridge relations between underground and state-sanctioned Catholic churches after being imprisoned by the communist authorities.

Vicar general in the central Chinese city of Hankou since 1950, Liu died in a hospital in the nearby city of Wuhan last week after a fall, the news service of the Vatican's missionary arm, Fides, said on Saturday.

Liu remained in China and loyal to the pope after the Vatican and Beijing broke formal relations in 1951.

Sentenced to 20 years prison in 1958, Liu continued to hold firm in the 1990s against pressure to reconcile with the Patriotic Church and its "official" bishop in Hankou, Monsignor Bernadino Dong Guangqing.

Fides said Liu had a strong impact on the Patriotic Church and helped strengthen relations between the underground and state-sanctioned church, even though Liu was still considered by many Catholics in the Hankou diocese to be their true bishop.