Yanzhou (AsiaNews) – Msgr. John Lu Peisen was ordained today as bishop of Yanzhou (Shandong). Bishop Lu, who was a long time seminary professor is approved by the Holy See and the Chinese government. He is the second legitimate bishop ordained in China since the beginning of the year after Msgr. Liang Jiansen of Jiangmen. But just days ago, the honorary chairman of the Patriotic Association, Anthony Liu Bainian had promised ten episcopal ordinations without papal consent.
Bishop Lu’s ordination came two days after Benedict XVI’s call to observe the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China on May 24. In the appeal the Pope mentioned his “brother bishops” in China some of whom “suffer and find themselves under pressure in the exercise of their episcopal ministry.”
Bishop Fang Xinyao of Linyi, chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, was the main celebrant. Bishops Zhao Fengchang of Liaocheng, Li Mingshu of Qingdao, Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun and Zhang Xianwang of Jinan concelebrated. All bishops present were legitimate.
Also concelebrating were 37 priests from Yanzhou and neighboring dioceses in Shandong. Only 200 laypeople attended due to government control. The ordination took place at the Heyanmen Church in Jining city, 30 kilometers off Yanzhou.
A priest of Yanzhou told AsiaNews that Msgr. Lu, originally from Jinan diocese, was transferred to Yanzhou last October and local priests elected him the bishop of Yanzhou. The diocese has seven priests and 10,000 Catholics.
Msgr. Lu was a seminary teacher at Holy Spirit Seminary in Jinan city, provincial capital, for 17 years, some local priests were his classmates and students at the seminary. “They were familiar with one another”, the priest added.
Msgr. Lu is a vice director the Working Committee of Clergy, which is under the control of the Patriotic Association and Chinese Bishops council. Led by Msgr. Fang Jianping of Tangshan (Hebei), the committee of clergy is one of the nine committees formed in the National Assembly of Catholic Representatives in December 2010.
Msgr. Lu was born on Aug. 7, 1966 to a Catholic family in Shandong province. From 1984 to 1989, he studied at Holy Spirit Seminary in Jinan. He was ordained a priest on Dec. 17, 1989 and served in Tai’an parish from 1990-1994. Since 1994, he worked at the seminary until now.
Yanzhou was originally part of the the South Shandong Apostolic vicariate formed in 1882 and run by Divine Word missionaries. It became Yenchowfu Apostolic vicariate in 1925 and was elevated to a diocese in 1946. The last ordinary was Bishop Zhao Fengwu who died in 2005 on his way to celebrate the Feast of Assumption on Aug. 15 at the age of 85.