Father Methodius Qu Ailin will be ordained bishop of Hunan this week, according to local Church sources. The 51-year-old priest has been approved by Pope Benedict XVI and recognized by the Chinese government, the sources said. The ceremony is scheduled for April 25 at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Changsha city, the capital of southern Hunan province. Bishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing, vice president of the government-sanctioned bishops’ conference and a participant in an illicit episcopal ordination in Chengde in 2010, will be the main celebrant, the sources said. The ordination will coincide with the final day of a plenary meeting of the Vatican Commission on the China Church. Bishop-elect Qu was born in 1961 and ordained a priest in Hengyang in 1995. He became a candidate for bishop in an election last year. He is deputy director of the Hunan Provincial Catholic Patriotic Association and a member of Hengyang City People’s Political Consultative Conference. About 20 priests serve 65,000 Catholics in the province, which has been without a bishop for more than a decade, following the death of Bishop Simon Qu Tianxi of Changsha in 2000. Hunan has four dioceses and five apostolic prefectures, according to the Vatican. The government-sanctioned “open” Church authorities restructured them into six dioceses in 1991 and later merged them into Hunan diocese in 1999. Since these administrative changes were not recognized by the Vatican, the new prelate will be known officially in Rome as the bishop of Changsha.
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