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  • » 08/07/2010, 00.00

    CHINA-VATICAN

    Bishop An Shuxin, former underground bishop installed as ordinary of Baoding

    Wang Zhicheng

    There is already an Ordinary (underground) of the diocese: Mgr. James Su, Zhimin, 13 years in prison. The decision to hold the ceremony made quickly by the government, who wanted Mgr. Ma Yinglin, an illegitimate bishop, to preside. Few participants: 24 priests and 300 faithful. The diocese has 120 priests and over 50 thousand faithful. Card. Bertone’s call to unity.

    Baoding (AsiaNews) - Mgr Francis An Shuxin, former underground auxiliary bishop of Baoding, was installed as bishop ordinary of the official Church in the diocese of Baoding (Hebei), in a ceremony held today in the Cathedral. The underground bishop of which Mgr. An was auxiliary Mgr. James Su Zhimin, has been imprisoned in an unknown location since 1997.

    The liturgy was presided by Mgr. An and officiated by two other bishops: Mgr. Liu Jing, bishop emeritus of Tangshan, and Mgr. Fang Jianping, current bishop of Tangshan. The ceremony was attended by 24 priests and 300 Catholics.

    The diocese of Baoding, one of the largest and with a strong presence of underground Catholics, has at least 50 thousand Catholics. Priests, official and underground, number 120. According to AsiaNews sources, the reduced presence at the ceremony is due to the choice of Mgr. An, made a year ago, to emerge from the underground Church and join the official church, after 10 years in prison (see AsiaNews.it, 29/10/2009 In Hebei, underground bishop joins Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, 04/11 / 2009 The choice of Bishop. Shuxin, "a disaster for the diocese of Baoding" 11/11/2009 Underground bishop: I joined the Patriotic Association for the good of the Church).

    Local sources told AsiaNews that the decision for the installation ceremony was made by the government almost a week ago. Bishop An was reluctant because he still considers himself the bishop coadjutor of Mgr. Su Zhimin, who has been in prison for more than 13 years. The government insisted, however, and had even decided to entrust the liturgy to Mgr. Ma Yinglin, the illegitimate bishop' of Kunming, but then accepted the presence of only two bishops from Tangshan.

    Before the mass, the letter of appointment of Mgr. An by the council of Chinese bishops and by the Patriotic Association was read publicly.  These two organizations support the independence of the Church (from the Holy See) and are considered "incompatible with Catholic doctrine" by Benedict XVI.

    After his appointment was read, Mgr. An received a mitre and pastoral staff. The Mass lasted about 90 minutes. Throughout the Mass, neither during prayers, nor in ohter moments, was the imprisoned Mgr. Su Zhimin mentioned.

    Mgr. An’s decision to leave the underground church a year ago has created a lot of  tensions and divisions among underground Catholics. Some priests - about 15 - have decided to follow him and declare themselves official; others - nearly 100 – instead to remain in the underground Church. Card. Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State at the time wrote a letter to all priests of Baoding asking them to remain united.  

    (With the collaboration of Zhen Yuan)
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    See also

    23/09/2010 CHINA
    Zhengding-Shijiazhuang, growing cooperation between official and underground bishops
    For the first time in decades, to mark the Mid-autumn Festival, some priests and laity of the diocese of underground Bishop. Jia Zhiguo, met with Mgr. Jiang Taoran, official bishop emeritus of Shijiazhuang. Mgr. Jia arrested several times, was freed last July.

    30/03/2010 VATICAN - CHINA
    Cardinal Zen returns to address the Church of Baoding and the case of Mgr. An Shuxin
    With "truth and charity" the Holy See is mending the unity of the Church of Baoding (Hebei) after the decision of the (coadjutor) bishop Francis An Shuxin to join the official Church, becoming vice president of local Patriotic Association. But certain interpretations put forward in an article in the magazine 30Days, penned by Gianni Valente, force Card. Joseph Zen to make some clarifications.

    08/05/2010 CHINA - VATCAN
    New bishop in Xiamen, approved by the Vatican. Present a bishop of Taiwan
    Msgr. Cheng, bishop emeritus of Taipei attends. Also present illegitimate Bishop Zhan Silu . The Diocese of Xiamen has long cultivated relationships with the Church in Taiwan. AsiaNews interview with the new bishop, Mgr. Cai.

    24/06/2010 CHINA - VATICAN
    New bishop of Sanyuan, approved by the Vatican
    Ordination attended by all the bishops in communion with the Holy See. New bishop awaited for five years. Among the priorities of the newly ordained: evangelization, a more personal relationship with the priests, the formation of priests and laity founded on the Bible. In the diocese, there is no obvious problem between underground and official Christians.

    04/01/2010 CHINA
    Underground Bishop of Xiwanzi dies, security tightened for funeral
    Although the area is under heavy snow, thousands of faithful are expected for the funeral. The government bans display of Episcopal insignia, prohibits the publication of obituaries and allows only three priests to attend the ceremony. In 2009, 7 Chinese bishops died. In China only 94 pastors remain.



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