Vatican and Beijing agree on new bishop

Vatican and Beijing agree on new bishop
2010-07-15 18:00:52
Holding degrees from US and pontifical universities, Father John Baptist Yang Xiaoting, 46, was ordained coadjutor bishop of Yan’an (Yulin) diocese on July 15 with both papal approval and government recognition. The new bishop obtained a doctorate from a pontifical university in 1999, the first mainland priest to attain such a qualification since religious activities were revived in the late 1970s. Bishop Louis Yu Runchen of Hanzhong presided over the ordination, which took place at the rural Xiaoqiaopan church, Jingbian county in the presence of seven Vatican-approved bishops. They are Bishops Anthony Dang Mingyan of Xi’an, Nicholas Han Jide of Pingliang, John Huo Cheng of Fenyang, Joseph Li Jing of Ningxia, Joseph Tong Changping of Weinan and Joseph Han Yingjin of Sanyuan and his predecessor retired Bishop Joseph Zhong Huaide. Bishop Francis Tong Hui of Yan’an who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease also made a brief appearance. Three thousand tickets were distributed for the ceremony while thousands of others watched from outside. Yan’an, which was once an important Communist revolutionary base, has two bishops, 20 priests and 24 nuns to serve 40,000 Catholics scattered over an area of 80,000 square kilometers.
Newly ordained Bishop Yang Xiaoting greeting Catholics
Since his nomination in late 2009, Bishop Yang has visited all parishes of the diocese. Local Catholics are frank and hospitable, he told But “their devotion and Church-going habits are weak” as churches are often distant. Cold winters and spring sandstorms also make it difficult, he added. The ancestors of local people were so-called “farming Catholics,” who joined the Church for a piece of land, Bishop Yang explained. Today, most young people only attend church for weddings and funerals. Only one-third attends Mass on major Church feasts, a lower ratio than in other parts of China, he said. Bishop Yang told that he will give priority to laity formation during the non-harvest seasons when farmers are free. He said he plans to create a formal structure for the diocese and to build a hospice for elderly and sick clergy including current Bishop Tong Hui, 76, whose health has deteriorated dramatically since March 2009. Profile of Bishop Yang:
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