China to ordain Vatican-approved bishop

 Fr Joseph Gan Junqiu is to be ordained today in Sacred Heart Cathedral, in the southern province of Gungdonf, AsiaNews reports. Fr Joseph publicly expressed his loyalty to the Pope in a statement after the election of Pope Benedict. The ordination was delayed for one year because of objections raised by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, (CPCA) a government agency which which wished to impose its own choice of bishop. The press and the faithful from other dioceses will not be allowed to attend the ceremony "for lack of space," but some 900 other parishioners with passes are expected to be present. Some local Catholics have visited the church and met the future bishop. "We have known Mgr Gan for quite some time; he is a calm but dynamic figure. He knows people's problems and gets personally and gladly involved where there is a need or explicit requests," they told AsiaNews. The future bishop has an "open mind and heart and is well liked by the people. He does not like compromises but also knows how to find a balance whenever tolerance is difficult to practice. This has an inner cost and entails love for his people and the Church, which is universal. It has been many years since we had a pastor and we are very happy for this grace from God." Mgr John Fang Xingyao of Linyi will preside over the ceremony along with Mgr Joseph Liao Hongqing of Meizhou and Mgr Paul Su Yongda of Zhanjiang. On Friday Mgr Francis Lu Shouwang was ordained the new official bishop of Yichang, (Hubei, central China). The new prelate did not publicly state whether his appointment was accepted by the Vatican or not, but AsiaNews sources confirm that he was approved by the Holy See. The bishops who ordained him were Mgr Louis Yu Runshen, official bishop of Hanzhong (Shaanxi); Mgr Zhao Fengchang, bishop of Liao Cheng (Yang Gu, Shandong); and Mgr Su Yongda, bishop of Zhanjiang (Guangdong). No underground bishop was present at the ceremony. Instead there were many officials from the CPCA and the Bishops' Council, including Wang Zuoan, deputy director of the Religious Affairs Bureau and Zhou Ning, a director of the Central United Front as well as representatives of the Hubei United Front and government leaders from Yichang, Enshizhou and Jingmen. After the Mass the new bishop pledged to "guide everyone, priests, nuns, seminarians and faithful, in observing the laws of the state, safeguard national unity and social stability, and make his own contribution to build a harmonious socialist society." Many faithful in the underground Church told AsiaNews that these ordinations, whilst they may have been legitimised, fall short of total obedience to what is laid out in the Pope's Letter to Chinese Catholics. In it Benedict XVI calls on legitimised bishops to announce and bring "into the public domain at the earliest opportunity" their legitimation by the Holy See. Some of the newly-ordained bishops are hiding instead their possible approval. For this reason the Pope calls on legitimised bishops "to provide unequivocal and increasing signs of full communion with the Successor of Peter" . According to the underground Church this means they should openly distance themselves from the CPCA, an organisation which the Vatican considers "incompatible with Catholic doctrine". Elsewhere, the Chinese government has blocked the ordination of the new coadjutor bishop of the autonomous province of Ningxia, in central China. The bishop ordinary, John Liu Jingshan, said that the ceremony for his successor, Fr Joseph Li Jing, "was moved by the government for some reason. Perhaps it will take place on 8 December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception." This future bishop also received the papal mandate. Source: AsiaNews/Church Resources

Share this story