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Taiwanese bishop resigns six months after ordination

Bishop John Lee Juo-wang of Tainan Diocese said psychological and physical problems forced him to resign

UCA News reporter, Taipei

UCA News reporter, Taipei

Published: June 23, 2021 04:27 AM GMT

Updated: June 25, 2021 06:35 AM GMT

Taiwanese bishop resigns six months after ordination

Bishop John Lee Juo-wang was ordained on Jan. 1 as the fifth bishop of Tainan. (Photo: Facebook page of Vacalv Klement, SBD)

A Catholic bishop in Taiwan has resigned less than six months after his episcopal ordination citing psychological and physical problems.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop John Lee Juo-wang of Tainan Diocese in southern Taiwan, the Vatican’s Fides news agency reported on June 19.

The pope also appointed retired Bishop Bosco Lin Chi-nan of Tainan as the diocese's apostolic administrator until a new bishop is appointed, Fides said.

Bishop Lee, 54, was ordained on Jan. 1 as the fifth bishop of Tainan. He was the first native bishop to be ordained in three decades.

In a letter to Catholics in his diocese, he said “psychological and physical problems" led to his resignation.  

"After long prayer and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I humbly accept that I have a serious health problem. I have chosen to resign for the good of the diocese,” Bishop Lee wrote.

The prelate thanked people for their love, affection, and accompaniment

He explained that by shedding responsibilities as the bishop he could prepare for necessary medical check-ups and treatment.

The prelate thanked people for their love, affection, and accompaniment and pleaded with them to understand his conditions and to pray for him.

Tainan City is located in the southwest of Taiwan on the rich and fertile Jianan Plain facing the Taiwan Strait. It has an estimated 2 million residents.

Tainan Diocese, erected in 1961, is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Taipei and has about 7,500 Catholics in 22 parishes.  

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John Lee was born to refugee parents on Nov. 2, 1966. The couple fled to Taiwan from mainland China amid political upheaval in the 1950s.

As the family struggled financially, the youngest child was given to the local Lee family for adoption. He was re-adopted by the Huang family.

He attended Salesian High School in Tainan and entered a local minor seminary at the age of 12. He studied philosophy and theology at St. Pius X Seminary in Tainan (1984-92). He became a priest on Jan. 1, 1993.

After serving the diocese for six years, he left for higher studies and obtained a licentiate degree in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.

He was appointed parish priest of the Causa Nostrae Laetitiae Shrine in 2002 and parish priest of St. Joseph’s Church in 2014.

He was also president of the Commission for the Promotion of Vocations and became chancellor of Tainan Diocese in 2017. He also served as vicar general of the diocese. Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Tainan on Nov. 14, 2020.

The Church in Taiwan runs about 50 schools, colleges and universities to educate thousands of pupils each year

About 4 percent of Taiwan’s nearly 24 million-strong population are Christians, while Buddhists make up about 35 percent, Taoists 33 percent and non-religious about 19 percent. Major Christian denominations are Protestants, Catholics and Mormons. Presbyterians play important roles in Taiwanese politics as they have been supporting Taiwan's movement for democracy. Four of its five presidents since 1949 have been Christians.

From about 5,000 members in 1949, the Taiwanese Church today has an estimated 300,000 Catholics in one archdiocese and six dioceses, with a significant number being refugees from mainland China. Migrant Catholics, mostly Vietnamese, Filipinos and Indonesians, are estimated to comprise around 100,000.

The Church in Taiwan runs about 50 schools, colleges and universities to educate thousands of pupils each year. Fujen Catholic University, Providence University and Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages are among the acclaimed church-run institutes.

The Church runs seven large hospitals and about 100 nursing homes that offer standard but affordable healthcare services. Pastoral care to immigrants from various countries form a major part of the Church's services.

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