Pope Invites an "Underground" Bishop From China

Names 3 Others From the Mainland to October Synod

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI named four bishops from mainland China, including one not recognized by the Communist government, as members of the Synod on the Eucharist, says a report.

It marks the first time since the dawn of Communism in China that a Pope has invited a bishop of the non-official Church to Rome, according to AsiaNews, an agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

The naming of the four bishops is seen by Vatican figures as a «warm and friendly» indication to the Beijing government that talks can safely be opened with the Holy See, said AsiaNews.

Last May 12, in a speech to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Benedict XVI had referred to countries that do not have «diplomatic relations,» saying that he expressed the hope of seeing them represented at the Vatican sooner or later.

The Vatican press office released the names of the Chinese nominees today, along with a full list of the papal picks to the synod, which begins Oct. 2.

The four mainland Chinese prelates are Anthony Li Duan of Xian, Louis Jin Luxian of Shanghai, both recognized by the government; Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar, not recognized by the government; and Luke Li Jingfeng of Fengxiang, recently recognized by the government.

A Vatican source said there is hope that the Chinese government will allow them to come to Rome, according to AsiaNews.

’98 synod

The government in China allows religious activities by recognized personnel and in places registered with the Religious Affairs Bureau and monitored by the Patriotic Association.

The faithful who seek to elude government control make up the non-official Church, which is considered to be an illegal organization.

For the Asian Synod, in 1998, Pope John Paul II had invited the two bishops of Wanxian, Matthias Duan Yinming and Joseph Xu Zhixuan, both members of the official Church, even though the former was still one of the bishops named with the approval of Pope Pius XII.

Benedict XVI’s choice of four bishops from the two branches of the Church indicates that the Holy See perceives there is but one Church in China, said AsiaNews.

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