Rome (AsiaNews) – The new coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Guizhou (Southern China) has been approved by the Vatican and all of the faithful have been publicly informed, even if the Patriotic Association has attempted to claim the precedence of choice.
Msgr. Paolo Xiao Zejiang, 40, was ordained on Saturday 8th in Guiyang Cathedral. Yesterday the notice was read out at all masses; the new coadjutor bishop has Holy See approval.
Msgr. Xiao’s ordination is the first to have taken place since the publication of Benedict XVI’s Letter to China’s Catholics. In it the pontiff reaffirms the autonomy of the Holy See in the choice of bishops and asks all pastors to publicly announce their bond to the Holy See.
Weeks ahead of the ordination, Catholics had spread the word about the Vatican approval of the new bishop, so many faithful, bishops and priests from the underground Church, after having seen the papal document, congratulated the newly appointed bishop, and even decided to participate together with the official Church in the ordination ceremony. It is perhaps the first time that this has occurred, marking an important step in reconciliation between the two branches of the Chinese Church, as hoped for and requested by the pope in his Letter.
Mgrs Xiao was ordained in the presence of 3 thousand people, 40 priests and 5 bishops. Mons. Aniceto Wang Chongyi, the ordinary of Guizhou presided over the ordination. Among the other bishops Msgr. Luigi Yu Runshen of Hanzhong (Shaanxi) and Msgr. Paolo He Zeqing of Wanzhou, all recognised by the government. The underground bishops Hu Daguo (of the ancient apostolic prefecture of Shiqian), who lives in Guiyang, had planned his presence at the ceremony . But due to his illness he had to be taken at an hospital.
The presence of Msgr. Giuseppe Ma Yinglin, the illicit bishop of Kunming, ordained last year by the express wish of the Patriotic Association, without Holy See approval, provoked disapproval. AsiaNews sources reveal that the Catholics of Guiyang explicitly requested him not to take part in the ceremony, giving that his position with the Vatican is still unclear.
Ma Yinglin’s presence at the ordination is seen as an attempt by the Patriotic Association to “take the merit” for the Guizhou ordination, making believe that the candidate was chosen by the organisation, whose aim is to build a national Church, without any links to the Holy See.
In recent days, figures from the PA have been claiming the credit for the decisions of new ordinations in Guangzhou, Yichang, Beijing, Ningxia and Hohhot. In reality, according to AsiaNews, many of these candidates have already been approved by the Holy See.