12/21/2007, 00.00
CHINA – VATICAN
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New bishop of Ningxia only ordained by prelates approved by the Pope

The government had previously stopped the ceremony for “unspecified reasons.” More than 2,000 people crowd Yinchuan Cathedral to hail Mgr Li Jing as their new bishop. On a sadder note, the much loved bishop of Cangzhou has passed away. He spent more than 20 years in Maoist concentration camps in order not to renege the Pope.

Yinchuan (AsiaNews) – This morning Mgr Joseph Li Jing was ordained bishop coadjutor of the diocese of Ningxia (in the north-central autonomous province of the same name), two weeks later than planned because of a stop imposed by the government. Coincidentally, Mgr John Liu Dinghan (see UCAN photo), bishop of Cangzhou, has passed away according to news reports. The much loved prelate spent more than 20 yeas in laogai prisons because of his unwavering communion with the Holy See.

Bishop Li’s ordination took place in the morning in Yinchuan Cathedral before a congregation of some 2,000 people. During the ceremony the new bishop knelt before the celebrant, Bishop John Liu Jingshan, to receive the mitre, Episcopal ring and crosier.

The co-ordaining bishops were Bishop John Liu Shigong of Jining (Inner Mongolia) and Bishop Joseph Li Mingshu (Qingdao), a former vice rector of the National Seminary in Beijing, who worked with the new bishop in the past. Bishop Joseph Zong Huaide of Sanyuan from neighbouring Shaanxi province and about 70 priests concelebrated the Mass. All the bishops present have been approved by the Vatican and recognised by the Chinese government.

Monsignor Li was elected by the diocesan clergy last year, but the Holy See had already approved his name three years ago. Some local Catholic sources told AsiaNews that before his ordination the new bishop sought contacts with the Vatican to “know whether the former approval was still valid.”

The new prelate was ordained priest in 1996, later studying for four years in Germany. Upon his return to China, he worked at the National Seminary as spiritual director, dean of studies and deputy rector.

The diocese of Ningxia has 12 priests serving about 10,000 Catholics in 14 parishes and prayer houses.

The first bishop of Yinchuan was appointed in 1993. Previously Ningxia was part of the diocese of Ba Meng where Bishop Li hails from.

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