Beijing Ordination Had Papal Approval

2007-09-22 00:00:00

The Sept. 22 daily Italian edition of L´Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, carries an article confirming that Pope Benedict XVI had approved the Sept. 21 ordination of Bishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing ahead of time.

This marks the first time in more than 50 years that the Vatican paper has carried information on the ordination of new bishops in mainland China. A box on the front page highlights the significance by directing readers´ attention to the article.

In addition to the ordination of Bishop Li, the article also reveals that the ordination of Coadjutor Bishop Paul Xiao Zejiang of Guiyang on Sept. 8 also had papal approval.

The Vatican considers both Beijing and Guiyang archdioceses, while the government-approved Church authorities in China, who conducted the ordinations, recognize only dioceses. The article also uses a variant spelling of the name of Bishop Louis Yu Runchen of Hanzhong.

An English translation by UCA News of the full text of the article follows:

Episcopal Ordinations in Mainland China

On September 8, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Father Paul Xiao Zejiang was ordained coadjutor archbishop of Guiyang (Kweyang), in the province of Guizhou. On 21 of this month, the feast of St Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist, Father Joseph Li Shan was ordained archbishop of Beijing. The two priests had been indicated to the Holy See by their respective local Catholic communities as worthy and suitable candidates.

The ordination of Mons. Xiao Zejiang was presided over by His Excellency, Mons. Aniceto Wang Chongyi, archbishop of Guiyang, assisted by His Excellency, Mons. Louis Yu Runshen, and by His Excellency, Mons. Paul He Zeqing, respectively bishop of Hanzhong (Hanchung) and auxiliary of Wanxian (Wanshien).

In Beijing, the ceremony of consecration of Mons. Li Shan was presided over by His Excellency, Mons. John Fang Xingyao, bishop of Linyi (Ichow), assisted by His Excellency, Mons. Peter Fang Jianping of Yongping (Tangshan) and by His Excellency Mons. Paul Pei Junmin of Shenyang (Mukden). All the above named consecrating bishops are in communion with the pope and are recognized by the Government. Several hundred faithful participated at the two religious celebrations.

When the Catholic communities of Guiyang and of Beijing received news of the communion granted by the Pope to His Excellency, Mons. Xiao, and to His Excellency, Mons. Li, they gathered in festive celebration around the new pastors. However, the participation of some bishops who are not in communion with the Holy See in the sacramental rite aroused regret.

In entrusting the difficult mission of these two young prelates and their diocesan communities to the protection of the Virgin Mary, the spontaneous hope is born that all the dioceses may have worthy and suitable pastors, capable of living in full communion with the Catholic Church and with the See of Peter, and of announcing the Gospel to the Chinese people.

Catholics, both in China and in the rest of the world, are praying so that "the earnest wish" of Pope Benedict may be realized: "the earnest wish that in the course of a respectful and open dialogue between the Holy See and the Chinese Bishops on the one hand, and the governmental authorities on the other, the difficulties may be overcome and thus a fruitful understanding may be reached that will prove beneficial to the Catholic community and to social cohesion" (Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Church in China, 27 May 2007, n.12).


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