The lack of explanations has generated speculation and questions among participants and observers. Photo: Vatican Media

Inexplicably, Two Chinese Bishops Leave the Synod on Synodality Being Held in the Vatican

The lack of adequate explanations has generated speculations and questions among the participants and observers.

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Valentina di Giorgio

(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 17.10.2023).- Midway through the Synod on Synodality, being held this month in the Vatican, an incident took place which has left the participants perplexed. Two prominent Chinese Bishops, Monsignor Anthony Yao Shun, Bishop of Jining, and Monsignor Joseph Yang Yongqiang, Bishop of Zhoucun, decided to return to China before the end of the synodal event. Unknown up to now is the explicit reason behind their unusual departure. The lack of explanations has generated speculations and questions among the participants and observers.

This unexpected event was announced on October 16 by Vatican spokesman Paolo Ruffini, during a press conference of the Synod. Ruffini said that both Bishops, who took part in the first 12 days of the Synodal Assembly, had to leave due to “pastoral necessities” in their respective dioceses, which needed immediate attention.

The news has called attention in part because it follows a similar pattern of two other Chinese Prelates who attended the Synod on Young People in 2018. At that time, Monsignor Joseph Guo Jincai, Bishop of Chengde, and Monsignor Yang Xiaoting, Bishop of Yan’an, also left the Vatican before the end of the event, leaving the observers perplexed.

Monsignor Yang, ordained with the Vatican’s approval in 2010, occupies a prominent position as Vice-President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, sanctioned by the government and leader of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association since 2016.

For his part, Monsignor Yao was the first Bishop consecrated under the terms of the 2019 Agreement between China and the Vatican on the appointment of Bishops. He is the Bishop of Jining in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and has played significant roles in the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

The unexpected departure of these two Bishops, with the right to vote in the 16thAssembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops, has left questions without answers on their motivation and has sparked debates in the heart of the Church. Their absence in the final votes on the summary document will mark the end of a Synod, which has witnessed several unusual events and continues to generate interest and questions.

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