ucanews.com reporter, Hong KongUpdated: February 03, 2016 09:16 AM GMT
Bishop-designate Ding Lingbin of Changzhi, left, shows State Administration for Religious Affairs director Wang Zuo’an around a church in Changzhi in December 2014. (Photo supplied)
The Vatican has held another round of negotiations with the Chinese government about the contentious issue of bishop appointments in China.
Officials from the Holy See sat down with a Chinese delegation in Rome Jan. 25 - 26 to discuss Beijing's policy of having bishops elected by government-selected voters.
The meeting in Rome was the third round of negotiations on bishop appointments in China. The first was held in June, 2014 and the second in October, 2015.
Italian daily, Corriere de Sera, broke the news about the negotiations on Jan. 31 and described them as "breakthrough" talks with Pope Francis giving approval to three bishop candidates.
Observers in China doubt the claim but expected the three candidates to be Fathers Peter Ding Lingbin of Changzhi, Cosmas Ji Chengyi of Zhumadian and Joseph Tang Yuange of Chengdu. Both sides have approved the three priests and their names were raised on different occasions last year.
Bishop-designate Tang's approval came in October, shortly after a six-member Vatican delegation visited Beijing.
A report in the state-run China Daily in late August mentioned Zhumadian Diocese fixing up a church as the venue for Bishop-designate Ji's ordination. Ji was approved by the Vatican some years ago while his state sanctioned election took place in April 2015.
Bishop-designate Ding also received papal approval prior to his election in December 2013.
"When Wang Zuo'an, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, inspected Changzhi in late 2014, he told us that Ding would be the first bishop to be ordained the next year," a local priest said.
The first and only episcopal ordination in 2015 turned out to be Bishop Joseph Zhang Yinlin of Anyang.