The episcopal ordination of Bishop Joseph Zhang Yinlin marks the first bishop to be ordained with Vatican approval in China since the election of Pope Francis.
According to Fides, the episcopal ordination of now-Bishop Joseph Zhang Yinlin took place at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Anyang in the Henan province last week. The prelate was approved by the Holy See as Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Jixian in Anyang.
Joseph Zhang Yinlin was born into a Catholic family on March 27, 1971, in Tianjiajing, in the same diocese where he now is bishop. Young Joseph would go on to enter the seminary in 1990 and be ordained a priest in 1996. In Lixian and Xiruciang, he carried out his pastoral ministry. Since 2007, he was the Diocese of Jixian’s vicar general and gave assistance to the elderly bishop.
Thomas Zhang Huaixin, Diocesan Bishop of Jixian, presided over last week’s ceremony, where some 1,300 faithful, 160 nuns, and 75 priests concelebrating the Mass participated in the solemn religious ceremony.
Greeting those present at the ordination, Bishop Zhang Yinlin thanked God for having chosen him, referring to himself as a simple and weak servant, and giving him this appointment. Citing the words of St. Paul, he said, “‘My grace is sufficient for you; for power is made perfect in weakness”. “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me'” (2 Cor. 12,9). He also thanked Diocesan Bishop, Thomas Zhang Huaixin, for having guided him patiently for many years and for having presided his episcopal ordination.
Since shortly after the Communist Party took power in 1949, the Vatican has had no formal diplomatic ties to Beijing. Though some see hope for improved relations with China, one of the many points of disagreement is that the State appoints bishops without Vatican approval.
Sources report there are between 8 to 12 million Catholics in China, which are are divided into the ‘official church’ run by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association which answers to the Communist Party and the ‘underground’ Catholic Church that swears allegiance only to the Pope.