China and Vatican Agree on a Bishop

Auxiliary Ordained for Shanghai Diocese

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SHANGHAI, China, JUNE 28, 2005 ( Monsignor Joseph Xing Wenzhi was ordained auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, a move that had the approval of both the Holy See and the Chinese government.

Bishop Xing, 42, is in line to succeed both Bishop Aloysius Jin Lu Xian, who has served for 20 years as the officially recognized head of the Shanghai Diocese, and Bishop Joseph Fan Zhong Liang, the revered pastor of the unregistered communities there. Bishop Jin is now nearly 90 and reported to be very ill.

Bishop Xing studied in the United States and, until today, was vicar general of the diocese.

With this move, the Chinese government hopes to find a way of healing the rift between the underground Church and the official, government-approved Church, according to AsiaNews.

For the government, accepting a bishop recognized by the Holy See means setting a single point of reference for the official and underground communities.

The acceptance of a bishop nominated by the Holy See is a plus for the Vatican, said AsiaNews. Beijing in effect is acknowledging that links between the Vatican and a bishop do not signify unwarranted interference in China’s internal affairs and do not threaten the security of the state, the news agency said.

Still, it is not clear how much freedom the new bishop will have in his pastoral activities. Nor is it clear how much freedom the current underground prelate, Bishop Fan, will have.

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