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    » 07/10/2010, 00.00

    CHINA - VATICAN

    New bishop of Taizhou ordained, after nearly 50 years of vacant see

    Zhen Yuan

    Approved by the Vatican. The Diocese of Taizhu was among the first to have a Chinese bishop in 1926. The newly ordained bishop has spent 25 years in hard labour. "In prison I discovered that God is close to me". No problems in the relationship between official and underground Christians. After decades the diocese is reborn.

    Taizhou (AsiaNews) - After 48 years of vacant see today the Diocese of Taizhou (Zhejiang) has a new bishop. Bishop Anthony Xu Jiwei, recognized by the government, was ordained this morning in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Taizhou (Jiaojiang district), with the approval of the Holy See.

    The ordination was presided over by bishop Li Mingshu Qingdao (Shandong). Also present were bishop Zhao Fengchang of Liaocheng (Shandong), bishop Xu Honggen of Suzhou (Jiangsu) and bishop Han Yingjin of Sanyuan (Shaanxi), who became bishop two weeks ago. All these pastors are legitimate (in communion with the Holy See) and approved by the government.

    The Diocese of Taizhou is famous in the history of the Chinese Church as its first bishop, Jou Hou-shan, was among the first six Chinese bishops ordained by Pope Pius XI in October 1926. Since Taizhou became a vicariate apostolic in 1926, separated from Ningbo, the diocese has had only two bishops: bishop Hou and the current neo-ordered bishop Xu, who is 75 years old. Bishop Hou died in 1962 and since then the Episcopal see has remained vacant until now.

    Bishop Xu is a native of Shanghai and worked as a priest in Ningbo. Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that since 1999 has been ready to serve the Church in the small diocese of Taizhou.

    To date - said the bishop - Taizhou has 6,000 Catholics, five priests, nine nuns. The majority of the faithful come from the countryside. The diocese has 25 parishes and five chapels and places of worship.

    Thanks to his roots in Shanghai and Ningbo, many believers from these dioceses - almost one thousand - took part in the ordination ceremony.

    Bishop Xu told AsiaNews that he hopes to help unity mature between the priests, nuns and faithful of the diocese. He added that the official and underground communities in Taizhou are in no way marked by conflict.

    Xu Bishop entered the seminary in Ningbo in 1948. He later studied at the Seminary of Xujiahui (Shanghai) until 1958. From 1960 to 1985, due to political events in China, he was sentenced to five years in prison and then to long years of forced labour, including a period of six years as a high school teacher.

    "The period of imprisonment – he revealed - has strengthened my faith. During that period of great trial, I prayed every day ... I realized that God loves me deeply and it is with me everyday”.

    In 1985, his sentence was revoked and he was sent to Shanghai, where he joined the regional seminary of Sheshan (Shanghai), with the first group of seminarians who received permission to study. Most of them were former seminarians forced to leave their studies during the Cultural Revolution. In 1985 he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Ningbo, but remained at Sheshan to teach. In 1987 he returned to Ningbo where he worked as pastor.

    In 1999 he was transferred to Taizhou, where he became apostolic administrator of the diocese, working in the parish of Jiaojiang. Bishop Xu was also able to travel abroad for studies, to Daegu (South Korea) in 2006 and Europe in 2007.

    Persecution arrested the development of the diocese of Taizhou. Within a few years of receiving its first bishop in 1926 the number of priests grew from 7 to 21. In 1957, Taizhou counted 6600 faithful, but all the churches were closed and its priests were arrested. Bishop Hou, very ill in prison, was released in 1962, but died the same year. At that time there were only three priests in the diocese.

    In 1984 the government reopened some churches, but the diocese had no pastor. From 1991 to '96, two priests sought to organise the community of faithful, until '99, when the present bishop Xu became apostolic administrator. Since then he has gathered together some seminarians and has also founded a female congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Teresa.  

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    See also

    02/05/2006 CHINA - VATICAN
    "A slap in the face against the Vatican": new episcopal ordination without pope's approval

    To take place tomorrow in Anhui.  The Patriotic Association is preparing many other ordinations of bishops to bring about a crisis in dialogue between Beijing and the Holy See.



    19/04/2012 CHINA - VATICAN
    Excommunicated Bishop at Nanchong ordination. Abp. Savio Hon: Disobedience leads to self-destruction
    The ordination took place this morning. In addition to the excommunicated bishop, there were five other bishops in communion with the pope. The faithful speak of "disrespect" to the newly ordained bishop, and to the community. The risks of division between official and underground communities will lead to the failure of Hu Jintao’s "harmonious society". Secretary of Propaganda Fide, “Lack of respect for the person of the new bishop and his community."

    21/09/2010 CHINA - VATICAN
    Mgr. Peter Wu Junwei, new bishop of Yuncheng
    The eighth bishop ordained this year with the approval of the Holy See and recognition of Beijing. All ordaining bishops are in communion with the Holy See. The priorities of the newly-ordained: formation of priests and laity to evangelize. In October, a planned retreat with all the priests of the diocese. The first evangelization of Yuncheng dates to late Ming Dynasty, by the Italian Jesuits Alenia and Vagnone.

    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.

    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.



    Editor's choices

    CHINA - VATICAN
    Vatican silence over Shanghai’s Mgr Ma Daqin causing confusion and controversy

    Bernardo Cervellera

    For some, Mgr Ma’s blog post praising the Patriotic Association and acknowledging his mistakes is nothing but “dirt”. For others, he chose humiliation for the “sake of his diocese”. Many wonder why the Holy See has remained silent about the article’s content and the bishop’s persecution. Some suspect the Vatican views the episode in positive terms. Yet, the Ma Daqin affair raises a major question. Has Benedict XVI’s Letter to Chinese Catholics (which describes the Patriotic Association as “incompatible with Catholic doctrine”) been abolished? If it has, who did it? A journey of compromises without truth is full of risks.


    CHINA – VATICAN
    Mgr Ma Daqin: the text of his “confession”

    Mons. Taddeo Ma Daqin

    Four years after quitting the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the bishop of Shanghai “admits” his faults on his blog, praising the organisation that controls the Church. We publish his article, almost in its entirety. Translation by AsiaNews.


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