Joseph Fan Zhongliang, underground Catholic bishop of Shanghai, dies at 97 under house arrest

Catholic groups say the underground bishop of Shanghai, Joseph Fan, has died at age 97 following decades of imprisonment and house arrest.

The U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation says Fan died early Sunday evening following a brief illness. It says officials in China's financial hub turned down a request to hold his funeral at the city's cathedral.

Fan was named Shanghai bishop by John Paul II in 2000, but was refused recognition by the Communist Party body overseeing the church in China. Fan was placed under house arrest and another priest, Aloysius Jin Luxian, named as bishop.

China rejects the Vatican's insistence on the right to appoint bishops and the sides have no formal ties.

Jin's successor, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, has not been seen since being taken into custody in 2012.