An image released by Fujian province’s Ethnic and Religious Affairs Department after the installation of Bishop Peter Lin Jiashan, the third underground bishop recognized since 2018.
An 83-year-old Chinese underground bishop was installed at a state-sanctioned church ceremony on June 9, just three months before the expiry of a Vatican-China pact on the appointment of bishops in the communist country.Bishop Peter Lin Jiashan, the underground bishop of Fuzhou in Fujian province, was installed at Fanchuanpu Holy Rosary Church in Fuzhou. Bishop Lin had been leading the underground church loyal to the Vatican since 1997.The ceremony was attended by only 40 priests and 80 Catholics from Fuzhou Diocese, reportedly following restrictions against gathering because of the coronavirus pandemic. Bishop Lin is the third bishop to be recognized by the communist regime after Vatican and China signed an agreement in September 2018 on the appointment of bishops. The details of the pact are still under wraps and it is reported to be valid only for two years unless renewed before September 2020.Bishop Joseph Cai Bingrui of Xiamen in Fujian province, a Vatican-recognized bishop, presided the ceremony.Since 1951, when the Vatican and China ended diplomatic relations, the communist government in China has not accepted any of the bishops appointed by the Vatican. In 1957, the state established the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) and appointed its own bishops.The state-run church came to be known as the open church, while the Vatican loyalists were called the underground church. Decades of Vatican efforts to regularize relations and appoint bishops in China resulted in the Vatican-China agreement in 2018.The first underground bishop to be recognized by China following the agreement was Bishop Zhuang Jianjian of Shantou on Jan. 22, 2019. He retired immediately. The second was Bishop Jin Lugang of Nanyang on Jan. 30, 2019.Fujian province’s Ethnic and Religious Affairs Department said Bishop Cai delivered a congratulatory speech on behalf of the CCPA and the Chinese Catholic educational administration committee of the province after the ceremony for Bishop Lin.Father Wang Yuliang, an official of the state-approved bishops’ conference in China, read a letter of approval from the bishops’ conference.