Two Chinese Catholic bishops have been ordained with the blessing of both Pope Francis and the Chinese government under a controversial new deal between Beijing and the Vatican.
On Monday, Monsignor Antonio Yao Shun, 54, received the papal mandate and was consecrated as the bishop of Jining, in Inner Mongolia, Vatican News reports. His ordination, which took place at Our Lady of Rosary Cathedral, marks the first since the Vatican and Beijing signed a “Provisional Agreement” in September over bishop nominations.
“I can confirm that H.E. Mgr. Antonio Yao Shun, who has been consecrated Bishop of Jining/Wulanchabu, Inner Mongolia (China), received the Papal Mandate, as was also stated by the Ordaining Bishop during the ceremony yesterday, 26th August 2019,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican Press Office, said in a statement.
Two days later, a second bishop was ordained. Fr. Stephen Xu Hongwei, 44, was ordained as coadjutor bishop of Hanzhong in the northern state of Shaanxi. In a statement, Bruni confirmed that Hongwei’s ordination “also took place in the framework of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China.”
The “Provisional Agreement,” which had the stated aim of allowing “the wounds of the past to be overcome,” was signed on Sept. 22. At the time, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that the accord was “not political but pastoral, allowing the faithful to have bishops who are in communion with Rome but at the same time recognized by Chinese authorities.”
Although the contents of the “Provisional Agreement” have never been disclosed, reports indicate that it requires Chinese officials to submit a candidate for bishop to the Vatican, while the pope will have final say over the matter.
Several Vatican experts say that with the two ordinations, China is demonstrating it recognizes the need for a bishop to be appointed by the pontiff. However, others believe Pope Francis appointed Yao “long before” the accord.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett