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Underground Chinese Bishop Dies

Vatican radio says Roman Catholic Bishop Xie Shiguang, the underground bishop of Mingdong, China has died of leukemia at the age of 88.

Monsignor Xie spent 28 years in prison because of his faith. According to the religious news agency Asianews, Monsignor Xie refused Chinese government demands that he register with the agency that controls churches. He was ordained in 1949 and became a bishop in 1984.

China's official, state-sponsored catholic church has about four million worshippers. The underground church loyal to the Pope numbers about 10-million according to Vatican estimates.

China permits worship in the government controlled churches, but Chinese Catholics loyal to the pope join the underground church.

Pope Benedict has said he would like to see closer ties between the Vatican and Catholics in China.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.