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China installs another bishop without Vatican approval

Bishop Shen Bin of Haimen was transferred to Shanghai allegedly breaching Vatican-China agreement
Bishop Joseph Shen Bin of Beijing

Bishop Joseph Shen Bin, who was newly installed as bishop of Shanghai (File Photo: UCA News) 

Published: April 05, 2023 05:52 AM GMT
Updated: April 05, 2023 06:56 AM GMT

In an apparent breach of the Vatican's agreement with China on the appointment of bishops, the bishop of Haimen was installed as the bishop of Shanghai on April 4.

"The Holy See had been informed a few days ago of the Chinese authorities' decision to transfer Bishop Joseph Shen Bin of Haimen to the Diocese of Shanghai and learned from the media of the installation this morning," said Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office on April 4.

"For the time being, I have nothing to say about the Holy See's assessment of the matter," Bruni added in a brief statement.

In 2018, the Vatican and the government of China signed an agreement outlining procedures for ensuring Catholic bishops are elected by the Catholic community in China and approved by the pope before their ordinations and installations. The agreement was renewed in 2020 and again in 2022.

But in November, just a month after the latest renewal, the Vatican issued a public statement of regret, essentially accusing the Chinese government of violating the agreement when Bishop John Peng Weizhao of Yujiang was installed as auxiliary bishop of Jiangxi, "a diocese not recognized by the Holy See."

The state-sanctioned Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China confirmed the installation ceremony was held on April 4.

Archbishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing presided over the ceremony and delivered a speech, said the conference's website.

About 200 people including priests of the diocese and leaders from the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, another state-run body, attended the program.

The newly installed bishop Shen Bin is chairman of the state-run bishops' conference. He was elected during the 10th National Congress on Catholicism in China in August 2022.  

After his installation, Shen Bin said he will continue to carry forward the fine tradition of patriotism and love of the Catholic Church in Shanghai.

He promised to follow the "principle of independence and self-governance" of the Church in China and also his "country's direction for Catholicism in China."  

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