06/29/2005, 00.00
CHINA
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New Shanghai bishop: "Serving the community against the spread of secularisation"

The Shanghai Religious Affairs office has sought to deny the bishop's appointment enjoys the consent of the Holy See. But Mgr Joseph Zen and AsiaNews sources confirm this is indeed the case.

Shanghai (AsiaNews) – Being a bishop is not an honour but a ministry to serve and to be a model for the entire community. This is what Mgr Giuseppe Xing Wenzhi, new auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, said in his homily yesterday, the day of his episcopal ordination. Mass was celebrated by Mgr Aloysius Jin Luxian, bishop of Shanghai.

The elderly age of Shanghai's faithful as well as its widespread materialism – the city is China's economic capital in the industrial boom – are pastoral challenger the new bishop will be called to face in one of the country's most populated diocese. Mgr Xing said he "wanted to follow the ways of Jesus and increase my faith to be able to face these challenges". He added: "Secularisation and a frenzied race for money are wrong because they distract man from his true needs".

On the whole, the Catholic community of Shanghai judges the new vicar kindly: he is seen as a man gifted with great faith and optimal doctrinal formation. According to Mgr Jin, the man is "gifted with the ability to look within men". The elderly prelate added: "He is young but mature: I do need to teach him anything more."
The appointment of the new bishop and the news that this took place with the consent of the Holy See has provoked a reaction from the Religious Affairs Office – a government entity which controls religious activities in China – of Shanghai. Today, the office said that "Mgr Xing's appointment is a Chinese affair and the Vatican has nothing to do with it."

However AsiaNews sources say the choice "was approved by the Holy See". Even Hong Kong bishop, Mgr Joseph Zen, highlighted this consent today in an interview: "There have been many cases when the Vatican and Beijing did not reach agreement on episcopal appointments, but it is normal that government makes an effort to keep everything quiet." He added: "However, the appointment of the auxiliary bishop of Shanghai should be seen for what it is, that is, a big step ahead in the normalization of Sino-Vatican relations".

Other AsiaNews sources said that the office statement "comes from the position of officials of the Shanghai Religious Affairs Office" who "oppose out for personal reasons, not on principle".

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