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Hong Kong Cardinal dies

Cardinal John Baptist Wu, who as head of Hong Kong's Catholic Diocese led the church through the sensitive transition from British to Chinese rule, died on Monday at the age of 77.

Wu had been critically ill with multiple myeloma, terminal bone marrow cancer. He was admitted to hospital in June, released a month later, then hospitalised again last month when his condition deteriorated.

Hong Kong's political leader, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, said Monday he was "deeply grieved" by Wu's death and expressed his condolences to the church.

"He had worked tirelessly to serve the Catholic community and make great contribution to the well-being of Hong Kong people," Tung said in a statement.

Born in 1925 in mainland China, Wu was ordained in 1952 and named a bishop in 1975. In 1988, he was appointed Hong Kong's first-ever cardinal. The Catholic Church in Hong Kong has 347,000 followers.

Under Wu's leadership, Hong Kong's Catholic Church occasionally ventured into sensitive political territory, drawing on civil liberties guaranteed to Hong Kong when the British colony reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

While Wu was cardinal, he led a thanksgiving service attended by more than 1,000 people to mark the Vatican's canonisation of 120 missionaries killed in China. Mainland officials said the canonisation was "an open insult".

Wu is to be succeeded by Bishop Joseph Zen, an outspoken cleric who has been barred from visiting the mainland since 1998, two years after he was made a bishop. His outspokenness has raised concerns whether the Catholic Church's relationship with the government might deteriorate after he takes over from Wu.

John Baptist Cardinal Wu Cheng-chung (
Hong Kong church reveals child abuse cases (3/5/02)

Guardian (AP)

24 Sep 2002