1st Catholic bishop in 3 years or­dained in main­land

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

The first Catholic bishop to be or­dained in main­land China for more than three years was con­se­crated on Tues­day amid a heavy po­lice pres­ence, wor­ship­pers said.

Joseph Zhang Yilin was in­stalled as the of­fi­cial bishop of Anyang in the cen­tral province of He­nan, as hun­dreds of po­lice blocked ac­cess to the Sa­cred Heart of Je­sus church. AFP was de­nied en­try to the cer­e­mony.

Main­land Chi­nese com­mu­nist author­i­ties does not rec­og­nize the Vat­i­can’s au­thor­ity over Catholics in the coun­try — es­ti­mates range from 9 to 12 mil­lion. It over­sees them with its own Chi­nese Pa­tri­otic Catholic As­so­ci­a­tion (CPCA).

Even so, many be­liev­ers pray at “un­der­ground” or “house” churches which seek to ex­ist out­side gov­ern­ment con­trol.

Bei­jing and the Holy See do not main­tain for­mal diplo­matic re­la­tions, and the right to se­lect bish- ops is a key stick­ing point be­tween them, but some priests are sup­ported by both.

Ac­cord­ing to the Catholic press agency UCA News, Joseph Zhang Yilin had been ap­proved by the Vat­i­can long be­fore the CPCA chose him for the post in April.

Dur­ing re­hearsals on Mon­day the 44-year-old, a short man with a lively de­meanor, stood in the chan­cel flanked by parish priests and al­tar boys as the choir sang.

A man in civil­ian clothes brusquely told AFP to leave the premises.

The last or­di­na­tion of a bishop in China ended in tur­moil, when Shang­hai’s newly in­stalled Thad­deus Ma Daqin de­nounced the CPCA and was taken away. He has been un­der house ar­rest ever since the cer­e­mony in 2012.

Three Chi­nese bish­ops were present at Anyang on Tues­day to or­dain Joseph Zhang Yilin, all of them Vat­i­can-ap­proved ac­cord­ing to UCA News. Had a non-Vat­i­canap­proved bishop been among them, it would have been seen as a provo­ca­tion by Bei­jing.

Since tak­ing of­fice, Pope Fran­cis has given new im­pe­tus to dis­cus­sions that have been on­go­ing be­tween Rome and Bei­jing since the 1980s. In De­cem­ber he ducked out of a meet­ing with the Dalai Lama, whom com­mu­nist China re­viles as a “split­tist” seek­ing Ti­bet’s in­de­pen­dence.

Around 100 priests at­tended Tues­day’s cer­e­mony, wor­ship­pers said, in­clud­ing some main­lan­ders who trav­eled from the U.S., Italy or France for the event.

“He comes from a very tra­di­tional Catholic fam­ily,” one said of the new bishop, ask­ing not to be named as the priests had been told not to speak to the media.

“I’m glad he is be­com­ing our bishop. He has a very deep faith and I know he will be able to ac­com­plish his min­istry well.”

Re­stric­tions on civil and re­li­gious so­ci­ety have been stepped up in main­land China since main­land au­thor­ity leader Xi Jin­ping took power two years ago.

In Zhe­jiang province a cam- paign to re­move crosses from both Protes­tant and Catholic churches has been run­ning for more than a year, with some houses of wor­ship de­mol­ished on the grounds that they vi­o­lated build­ing codes.


(Left) A wor­ship­per dis­plays a photo of Fa­ther Joseph Zhang Yilin in a book af­ter he was or­dained as a bishop, in Anyang, He­nan on Tues­day, Aug. 4.

(Right) Wor­ship­pers gather out­side the Sa­cred Heart of Je­sus Catholic church af­ter Fr. Joseph Zhang Yilin was or­dained as a bishop, in Anyang, Tues­day.

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