Beijing (AsiaNews) – Catholics in China’s capital are getting ready for the ordination of the new bishop of Beijing. The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) has instead seized the bishop’s residence.
Sources told AsiaNews that the ordination could take place next Friday in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Nan Tang) where preparations for the ceremony are well under way, including flower arrangements and else.
Whilst some young volunteers are getting ready for the event, which should draw thousands of people, others are working out security arrangements because some government leaders are expected to attend the ceremony. Meanwhile the newly-appointed bishop is preparing himself with spiritual exercises.
Mgr Joseph Li Shan, 43, is set to succeed Michael Fu Tieshan, who died last April 20, one of the few official bishops who did not seek reconciliation with the Holy See. A deputy chairman in the CCPA his goal was to set up a Church that was separate from Rome.
Some Chinese Catholic sources told AsiaNews that Mgr Li, who was formally elected by the council of diocesan representatives and approved by the Council of Chinese Bishops, received the approval of the Holy See. Other sources stated that they were not aware of that. Still preparations are proceeding in a calm atmosphere
In recent days CCPA Deputy Chairman Anthony Liu Bainian said in a few interviews that he doubted the Vatican had approved the appointment.
Other Chinese Catholics noted however that Liu Bainian “represents no one” and “does not know on whose behalf he is talking”.
In recent years the CCPA and its deputy chairman have become lost sway in the Catholic community. Most official bishops are now in communion with the Holy See.
Even the latest Episcopal ordinations and appointments were done with Vatican approval despite Liu Bainian’s claims that he was responsible for them.
Liu Bainian has also come under criticism from inside his own organisation for using Church property to launch commercial and financial initiatives in favour of his family and in so doing violated government rules.
For his part Mgr Li is well liked as a pastor. He was actively involved in the life of Saint Joseph Parish Church (Dong Tang) where he brought together many young people and catechumens.
On August 23 he moved to Nan Tang Cathedral, but has not been able to enter the quarters used by his predecessor, Archbishop Fu Tieshan, because they were seized by the CCPA.