First bishop ordained since Sino-Vatican deal

HONG KONG (UCAN): Father Anthony Yao Shun of the Diocese of Jining, Inner Mongolia, was ordained at the Our Lady of Rosary Cathedral on August 26. It was the first episcopal ordination since the 2018 China-Vatican provisional agreement on the ordination of bishops.

Concelebrating were Bishop Paul Meng Qinglu of Hohhot, a vice-chairperson of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA); Bishop Matthias Du Jiang of Bameng, also in Inner Mongolia; Bishop Paul Meng Ningyou of Taiyuan, Shanxi province; and Bishop Joseph Li Jing of Ningxia in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. More than 120 priests also concelebrated. 

Fifty nuns together and more than 1,000 Catholics attended the Mass.

An approval letter from the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) was read out during the ceremony, declaring that Bishop Yao had been elected “according to the tradition of bishop election by the Holy Church and the regulation of the BCCCC.”

It said, “After verification and a valid election, we give an official approval now. This candidate was approved by the pope.” 

According to a local source, there was minimum government security and the ceremony ran smoothly. 

A diocesan priest, Father Joseph, noted that their diocese focused on evangelisation and connecting with local Catholics.

 “God uses bishops as a visible sign to lead us and manage the Church. I think Bishop Yao has plans for how to develop the diocese development,” he said.

Another priest from the diocese, Father Peter, said that he hoped Bishop Yao would lead the Church’s quest for more space to allow it to develop.

Bishop Yao is a former vicar general of the diocese, which has about 70,000 faithful, led by 31 priests and 12 nuns. He was elected by Church members on April 9.

Although he is the first bishop to be ordained since the China-Vatican agreement was signed in September 2018, Bishop Yao was secretly approved by the Vatican in 2010.

A further 20 episcopal candidates have been approved by the Vatican and are waiting for their appointments to be ratified by the Chinese government.

Bishop Yao was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1991 and taught at the National Seminary, studying liturgy at St. John’s University in New York, the United States of America, and returning to the diocese in 2010. 

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