Catholic priest, nun murdered in China

Posted at 07/08/2010 4:14 PM

BEIJING - A priest and a nun who were both members of China's underground Catholic church were murdered in the north of the country this week but the motive was not clear, police said Thursday.

AsiaNews, a Vatican-based news service, said Joseph Shulai Zhang and Sister Mary Wei Yanhui were apparently stabbed to death at the nursing home where they worked in the city of Wuhai in Inner Mongolia.

After the two failed to appear at morning mass, their bodies were discovered in a pool of blood in the home, which was housed within the local church, the report said.

The priest was apparently stabbed seven times, while the nun suffered one stab wound to the chest.

"This is a criminal matter, we are in the process of cracking this case," a city policeman, also surnamed Zhang, told AFP.

The policeman said the motive for the murders was not immediately clear and that investigators were not sure how many suspects were involved.

Zhang, 55, had been a priest since 1985. Sister Wei, 32, was the director of the nursing home, which housed about 60 elderly people, AsiaNews said.

China has about five million Catholics who worship at Communist Party-sanctioned "official" churches, while up to 11 million reportedly worship at "underground" churches not sanctioned by the government.