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Updated: December 17, 1985 05:00 PM GMT
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The first Taiwan-born bishop has been appointed.

Pope John Paul II has named Father Jose Lin Tien-chu, 50, bishop of Chiayi, 160 km south of Taipei, the apostolic nunciature announced here Dec. 15.

Bishop-elect Lin succeeds Coadjutor Archbishop Joseph Ti-Kang of Taipei, who was promoted May 14. He is expected to be consecrated Jan. 12 in Chiayi by Archbishop Stanislaus Lokuang, president of the Chinese Bishop´s Conference.

"I never had the slightest ambition to become a bishop," the bishop-elect told UCA News. "It took me by complete surprise."

Pastor of Holy Rosary Cathedral in Kaohsiung, 290 km south of Taipei, since 1977, Father Lin is originally from Puchianglun, in Taiwan´s Yunlin county.

He earned a doctorate in systematic theology (dogma) at Urban College and was ordained in 1961. He has served as rector of St. Joseph Minor Seminary, Kaohsiung, and taught dogma at St. Pius X Major Seminary, Tainan.

-- Besides indigenous clergy, Chiayi diocese has Divine Word, Vincentian and Jesuit priests serving 18,400 Catholics.

Bishop-elect Lin commented, "Chiayi diocese, established in 1962, has been run very well by my predecessors, Bishops Thomas Niu, Matthew Kia and Joseph Ti-Kang, and the cooperation among 80 clergy is also good."

Holy Rosary parishioners -- most native Taiwanese -- number 2,500 and account for about 1 percent of the area´s population.

-- Local reaction to news of the appointment has been positive. "He gathered ample experience as academic professor and parish minister," said Taiwan-born Dominican Father Joseph Hou.

Calling Bishop-elect Lin´s elevation a milestone in the history of Taiwan´s Catholic Church, Father Hou noted that the first Taiwanese Apostolic Administrator, Father Tu Ming-tseng, who was in charge of Kaohsiung District from April 1946 to March 1947, was not ordained a bishop.

Another Taiwanese apostolic administrator, Father Thomas Pai Cheng-lung, who has been in charge of Church affairs on the Pescadores Islands since 1976, also is not an ordained bishop.

For Jesuit Father John Chang Lung-hsun, president of the Association of Taiwan-born Priests which represents 50 Taiwan-born or aboriginal priests, "This sets the beginning of a new era in the island´s 125-year Church history."

Father Chang said he hopes the new bishop will develop Church social service and self-support and emphasize formation of more lay people.

Among the island´s 374 Chinese priests, only 50 are Taiwan-born. The Church here also has 386 foreign priests.


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