Fengxiang elects bishop candidateVoting conforms to both Canon Law and the Chinese government’s electoral rules
Father Peter Li Huiyuan, the only candidate nominated by Bishop Luke Li Jingfeng of Fengxiang, received 47 votes and one abstention from 48 voters - 36 diocesan priests, six representatives of Religious congregations and six lay leaders.
The election on May 18 was chaired by the diocesan curia. The 89-year-old Bishop Li, two vicars general and two priests who served as counting officers took oaths on the Bible before all the votes were cast.
Local religious officials, who were invited to observe the process, certified the election met the country’s regulations and confirmed the result was valid.
The prelate told ucanews.com that the whole election process, which conformed to the Canon Law and the Chinese government’s electoral law, was carried out in an “open, just, fair and free” process.
The diocese will submit the result to the government and will wait to hold the episcopal ordination according to the Church principle, he noted.
Bishop-elect Li, who known for his easy-going personality, ability and integrity, was born in 1965. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Li in 1991 upon graduating from the diocesan seminary. Since then he has served as a parish priest for two decades.
Bishop Li is an influential underground bishop who got government recognition in August 2004. However, he has never joined the government-sanctioned Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China or the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. He was one of the four mainland prelates who were invited by the pope to the World Synod of Bishops in 2005, although he was unable to attend.*
An observer who requested anonymity said the election model in Fengxiang was worth attention but it did not have any general meaning to the China Church.
He believed Bishop Li wanted to gain support from Beijing and the Vatican for this “harmonious transition” of diocesan leadership. “Both sides would not have any reason to oppose the candidate despite their relations are in low tide,” the observer said.
Retired Coadjutor Bishop Peter Zhang Zhiyong, 80, who is not recognized by the government, was also present in the election.
*This paragraph originally indicated erroneously that Bishop Li had been a member of the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China. It has been corrected to reflect that he has never belonged to the conference.
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