Yuncheng (AsiaNews) – Mgr. Peter Wu Junwei, 47, has become the new Bishop of Yuncheng (Shanxi). Bishop Wu was the eighth Chinese bishop ordained this year, with the approval of the Holy See and the recognition of the Beijing government.
The ordination ceremony was held today, the feast of St. Matthew, in the Cathedral. It was attended by over 2000 faithful, 144 priests and 95 nuns from Shanxi, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Hubei.
The presiding bishop was Mgr. Huo Cheng of Fenyang, also concelebrating: Mgr. Joseph Li Shan of Beijing, the coadjutor bishop of Taiyuan, Mgr. Paul Meng Ningyou (ordained 5 days ago) Mgr. John Baptist Yang Xiaoting of Yanan (ordained in July). All bishops in communion with the Holy See.
During the ceremony, Mgr. Wu Junwei said that "by the Lord's mercy and through the protection of the Holy Spirit I have been called and elected bishop of Yuncheng. While conscious of my unworthiness and that I am not up to be bishop of this diocese, I believe the Lord has called me to this mission. I ask from you the kindness and courtesy of constant help and support. For my part I will concentrate on promoting unity and reconciliation within the diocese and the formation of clergy. I also promise to encourage the active participation of lay faithful in evangelization. The development of our diocese requires the continuous and healthy contribution of every member of our Church”.
In previous days, many devotees had expressed fears that illicitly ordained bishops, including Mgr. Andrew Jin Daoyuan of Changzhi, ordained without Holy See permission in 2000, would take part in the ceremony. Instead, he did not attend the event today. He is now legitimate but has no jurisdiction.
Mgr. Wu spoke to AsiaNew about his background revealing that he comes from a devout Catholic family; some of his relatives are priests and nuns. "Leading a diocese - he says - is a great responsibility. My parents were afraid I was not able to carry the cross. But they have prayed a lot for me and I am grateful to them”.
Mgr. Wu decided to focus on certain priorities such as the formation of priests and lay catechists. "Unity and communion are very important," he stressed, explaining that he has organized a retreat with all the priests of the diocese for October.
The Diocese of Yuncheng has 15,000 Catholics, served by 28 priests and 40 nuns. The faithful are almost entirely corn and wheat farmers. "The Church is growing - the new-bishop says - and every year there are new baptisms”.
Bishop Wu also hopes to develop some social services for the needy.
The Diocese of Yuncheng (Jiangzhou) can be defined as the heart of the Catholic Church in Shanxi. At the end of the Ming dynasty, in 1620, the Italian Jesuit missionary Giulio Alenia (1582-1649), came to evangelize the area of Jiangzhou. After four years he moved to Shaanxi. At the beginning of 1624 Belgian Nicolas Trigault (1577-1628) also came to Jiangzhou. Italian Jesuit Alfonso Vagnone (1566-1640) also worked for a long time in Jiangzhou. Vagnone preached the gospel there for fifteen years, managing to personally baptize over 8,000 neophytes.
The new bishop was born in a village of Taiyuan in 1963. He entered the minor seminary in '82, a year after graduating school. He was ordained a priest of the diocese of Taiyuan in 1990. From '91 to '96 he was pastor of Shagou and from '96 to 2001 was responsible for diocesan affairs.
From 2001 to 2009 he was rector of the seminary of Shanxi. In September 2009 he was transferred to the Diocese of Yuncheng. One year ago on the 8th September he was elected ordinary of the diocese.