Nantong (AsiaNews) – Bishop Shen Bin of Haimen (Nantong) was ordained today as the new official bishop of the diocese of Haimen (Nantong), Jiangsu province, on China’s east coast. The ceremony was held in the cathedral of Nantong City. His ordination has been approved by the Holy See. Following the event, which began at 8.30 am, all those present observed a moment of silence at 10 am in memory of Qinghai quake victims.
Mgr Shen is the second bishop to be recognised by the government and approved by the Holy See in four days. Last Sunday, Mgr Paul Meng Qinglu became the bishop of Hohhot.
Hitherto, Episcopal appointments in China had been held up for almost two years. The Haimen bishopric had been vacant since 2006 when Bishop Yu Chengcai passed away.
Mgr Fang Xinyao, bishop of Linyi, presided over the ceremony. Three other bishops from Jiangsu were present, namely Mgr Lu Xinping of Nanking, Mgr Xu Honggen of Suzhou and Wang Renlei of Xuzhou. All of them except Wang, who was ordained in November 2006 without papal approval, are lawfully in communion with the Holy See.
Some 20 priests and two thousand faithful also took part in the celebration.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Mgr Shen said that his priorities include strengthening formation and social services. He hopes he can help priests and nuns deepen their knowledge of the Bible, as well as spirituality and culture. He also intends to help the laity better understand the Church and play a role in evangelisation. Likewise, the new bishop wants to help the poorest students get an education and set up charity groups to assist the poor, orphans, widows and disaster victims.
Mgr Shen, who is 40, has been a priest since 1996. For a long time, he was the vicar general to his predecessor.
Mass participants joined the nation in a silent prayer to mourn the people who died in the Qinghai earthquake. During the banquet that followed the service, wine was not served.
Some of those who attended the ceremony came away with the impression that the ordination was rushed. However, Bishop Shen said that the period that follows Easter is the best time for ordinations because the diocese in May is busy organising pilgrimage to Our Lady of Langshan, a local shrine, whilst the month of June tends to be too hot and humid.
The diocese of Haimen has a Catholic population of 30,000, and served by 9 priests and 21 nuns.