07/28/2005, 00.00
china - vatican
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New Bishop of Xi'an, approved by Rome and Beijing

Msgr Anthony Dang Mingyan, consecrated by Archbishop Anthony Li Duan.

Xi'an (AsiaNews/Ucan) – The Archdiocese of Xi'an has a new auxiliary bishop.  Monsignor Anthony Dan Mingyan, age 38, was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese on July 26, feast of Saints Joachim and Anne.  The archbishop himself, Msgr Anthony Li Duan, known for his faith and great love for the pope, presided over the celebration.

AsiaNews sources confirm that this episcopal ordination – like that of Shanghai last month – also took place with the approval of the Holy See and with the consent of the Chinese government.

Some 2,000 Catholics and over 100 priests attended the ceremony, which was held at St Francis Cathedral in the capital city.  The co-ordaining prelates were Bishop Francis Tong Hui of Yan'an and Bishop Joseph Zong Huaide of Sanyuan, both in Shaanxi province.  Among prelates who also laid hands on the new auxiliary were Bishop John Ye Ronghua of Ankang, Bishop Tong Changping of Weinan and Bishop Louis Yu Runchen, all from Shaanxi, and Bishop Han Jide of Pingliang in Gansu province and Bishop John Huo Cheng of Fenyang (Luliang) in Shanxi province.

Unlike last month's ordination in Shanghai, no foreign priests or guests from outside China were present.  On the other hand, local government representatives were in attendance: two officials from the State Administration of Religious Affairs, as well as Father Ma Yinglin and layman Liu Yuanlong, secretaries-general of the Beijing-based bishop's council and of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association respectively.

A great champion of the faith, Archbishop Anthony Li Duan, age 78, is known as a defender of Church freedom vis-à-vis the Patriotic Association's pretensions to control and manage the Church.  For this very reason, he often undergoes checks and interrogations, as well as long periods of close surveillance.

Archbishop Li, vice president of the Bishops' Council of the Catholic Church in China, was once rumored to be the "cardinal in pectore" never revealed by John Paul II.  But Msgr Li stated publicly that he "never received any such official notice."

A very active and determined man, Bishop Li opened a formation section for nuns in Xi'an's regional seminary in 1997.  He also opened the country's first Church-run social service center in 2002.

Archbishop Li was diagnosed with cancer last year and since then has been in and out of hospital: two days prior to the ordination on July 26, he was in hospital undergoing treatment.

Due to the Archbishop's illness, many think that Msgr Dang will be Archbishop Li's successor.

Bishop Dang was born to a Catholic family on July 12, 1967, the eighth of nine children. He entered Xi'an Seminary in 1985 but went on to further theological studies at Sheshan  Seminary (Shanghai) and was ordained a priest in 1991.

Before his episcopal ordination, Bishop Dang had been parish priest of Saint Anthony's Church, four kilometers west of the cathedral, ever since it opened in 2003. He also has been director of the diocesan financial commission.

Msgr Dang said on of his main tasks will be to motivate priests and laypeople to evangelize.

The Archdiocese of Xi'an was founded in 1946 and counts over 20,000 Catholics.

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