The bishop of Mingdong, died of leukemia on Thursday

An elderly Chinese bishop who had been imprisoned for 28 years because of his faith has died in China.

Vatican Radio said that Monsignor Xie Shiguang, the bishop of Mingdong, died of leukemia on Thursday. Xie, 88, was first arrested in 1955 by Chinese authorities "because of his loyalty and obedience to the pope," and released a year later, the radio report said. He was arrested again in 1958 and jailed until 1980, Vatican Radio said. Xie was also imprisoned from 1984-1987, and finally for two years starting in 1990, and was kept under surveillance by authorities until his death, the radio report said. The Vatican praised Xie as a "courageous witness to Christ."

The new pope, Benedict XVI, has made it clear he wants to bring China's estimated 12 million Catholics under Rome's wing. China has said it would like better relations with the Holy See, but it wants the Vatican to cut its diplomatic ties to Taiwan, reported AP.

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