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Updated: February 14, 1989 05:00 PM GMT
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Mainland China, which has more than 100 dioceses, has two bishops whose Chinese names are completely identical. More surprising, they also share the same Christian name -- Joseph.

China-appointed Bishop Zong Huaide of Jinan and Zhoucun, in Shandong province, has played a leading role as president of the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) in Beijing since 1980.

Overseas Christians know less about Bishop Zong Huaide in Shaanxi province, west of Shandong. He has long headed the Diocese of Sanyan and was chosen as bishop-elect in 1987.

According to a Shandong Catholic, the two prelates are distant relatives whose kinship origin can be traced back to a Catholic family in Shandong.

At the end of the 19th century, some of the Zong family migrated to Shaanxi and others moved a shorter distance west and settled in Shanxi province.

The Jinan and Sanyan bishops are of the same generation so, following their genealogy, they adopted the character "Huai" in their names. They are considered as brothers in the clan.

The Zong family had another Catholic prelate in its Shanxi branch. Bishop Alfonso Zong Huaimu, who died during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, was appointed bishop of Yantai, in Shandong, by Pope Pius XII in 1951.

Amazingly, Bishop Zong Huaimu was of the same generation as the two Bishops Zong Huaide.

Born in Tunliu county in Shanxi, Bishop Zong Huaimu entered the Franciscan Order in 1925 and was ordained a priest in Jinan in 1931. His episcopal ordination took place in Beijing, and he stayed there until his death.

Father Laurence Shi Yukun, pastor of Beijing´s Immaculate Conception Cathedral, and China-appointed Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan of Beijing were ordained priests by the Yantai prelate in 1955 and 1956.

The Jinan Bishop Zong Huaide was born in 1917 in Huantai county, Shandong, and became a priest in 1943. He was ordained bishop of Zhoucun in 1958 after serving as administrator there for nine years.

He has concurrently been bishop of Jinan since 1963, but his episcopacy was without papal approval since China severed ties with the Vatican in 1957.

Besides holding presidency in the CCPA, he is also acting head of two other national Church organizations -- the Chinese Catholic Church Administrative Commission and Chinese Catholic Bishops´ College.

The Sanyan Bishop-elect Zong Huaide was born in 1921 in Shaanxi. He was ordained a priest in 1949 and named administrator of Sanyan in 1952 when then Bishop Ferdinal Pasini, a foreign missioner, left China.

Sanyan, where no CCPA chapters or similar groups have been formed, now has 20,000 believers and 13 seminarians studying at the Sanyuan Seminary in Tongyuenfang village.

The diocese is served by 13 priests, while another teaches in the national Chinese Catholic Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Beijing.

Zhangyice, a small Catholic village in Gaoling county, near Sanyan, is a famous pilgrimage site for Catholics in northwest China.


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