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    » 07/18/2007, 00.00


    The new Bishop of Beijing is elected

    It’s Father Joseph Li Shan, a pastor who has demonstrated independence from the Patriotic Association. He is the first new bishop since Benedict XVI’s letter. Chosen by an “independent” procedure and not appointed by the Pope, despite this his name was among those with Rome’s approval.

    Beijing (AsiaNews) – The “community” of the Beijing diocese has chosen Fr. Joseph Li Shan, 43, as their new bishop.  The news was gathered from Chinese Catholic sources, who clarify that his nomination took place on July 16th.

    His election will be confirmed by the “Council of bishops”, taking over the post left vacant by the death of Michele Fu Tieshan, Patriotic Archbishop of Beijing, who died on April 20th or maybe even earlier.  As president of the Patriotic Association, the organism by which the Communist Party controls the Catholic Church in the country, Msgr. Fu Tieshan always sided with the government and against the Holy See.  On his death he was given a state burial, attended by numerous political figures and few faithful.

    Fr. Li Shan’s election is the first to take place in China following the publication of Benedict XVI’s Letter to the Catholics of China.  The procedure for his appointment was formally “independent”, in so far as he was elected by an assembly comprising priests, nuns and lay people and not nominated by the Pope.  He will similarly be confirmed by the Council of Bishops, a group which the Pope wrote in his Letter, “cannot be recognised as an Episcopal conference of the Apostolic See”.

    Regarding the choice of Fr. Li Shan, officially, the Vatican has limited itself to following the situation “with great attention” but without any comment.  Instead, according to Chinese Catholic sources, the name of Fr. Li Shan was among those put forward for the post of Beijing archbishop which did not raise objections in Rome, even in the absence an “accord”.

    Fr. Giuseppe Li Shan, in fact, is considered across the board as a good and true pastor.  A man of faith, capable of relating to both the faithful and the political authorities.  He is a native of Beijing; his family has a deep rooted Catholic tradition, giving him an advantage over someone not from the area.  He has never travelled abroad, not even for study.  If this creates some difficulties regarding international relations, on the other hand it makes him to a “national product” in the eyes of the faithful and the authorities.

    In his relations with the Patriotic Association he has been most succinct, rejecting the power of the AP.  In recent years he has fought against the forced expropriation of Church property in his parish (Dong Tang) by members of the AP and the “secretary” of Fu Tieshan, Chen Maoju. This is why the faithful of Beijing admire him.  His opposition to the AP and Fu’s gang also put him in a good light with the local and national government.

    Currently he is the parish priest of St Joseph’s (Dong Tang), in Beijing’s shopping area of Wangfujin.


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    See also

    21/04/2007 CHINA - VATICAN
    State funeral for Beijing’s Patriotic bishop, party “property”
    Despite the request made by the Patriotic Association, there will be no Vatican representative at the burial. Officially praised as “a great friend of the communist party”. Doubts surround the date of his death.

    27/04/2007 CHINA
    A thousand people at Fu Tieshan’s funeral
    Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao and other figures of the Leadership attend to state funeral. Low Catholic turnout.

    17/09/2007 CHINA – VATICAN
    Beijing getting ready for the ordination of Mgr Li Shan, CCPA seizes bishop’s residence
    Mgr Li Shan’s ordination should go ahead next Friday. Some sources believe his appointment has Holy See approval. CCPA deputy chairman is suspected of using Church property to benefit his family.

    20/04/2007 CHINA
    Patriotic Church bishop critically ill
    The controversial prelate has been ill for several years. Many faithful have often avoided him because of his anti-Vatican views. In public life he has taken on many functions but China’s Catholic Patriotic Association has been preparing his succession for some time.

    20/04/2007 CHINA - VATICAN
    Fu Tieshan, "tragic" figure of the Chinese Patriotic Church, dies
    A grand career in politics and in the Patriotic Association, total subjection to the ideology and the power of the Party and the Patriotic Association; adored by the regime, disliked by his flock. With his death one of the most painful chapters of the Church in China comes to an end and a new phase of greater dialogue between China and the Vatican is (perhaps) on the horizon.

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