04/03/2023, 13.26
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New bishop of Shanghai set for tomorrow: Bishop Shen Bin in pole position

The favourite is the current pastor of Haimen. He is head of the Council of Chinese Bishops, a body loyal to the Communist Party. The city diocese has in fact been vacant for 10 years, since the death of Msgr. Jin Luxian. His successor, Msgr Ma Daqin, has been under house arrest since 2012. The last episcopal installation in China took place on 8 September 2021.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Tomorrow the new bishop of Shanghai will take office. AsiaNews has been able to view a circular from the local authorities inviting the priests of the diocese to attend the celebration.

The document does not mention a name, but in all probability the choice has fallen on Msgr Shen Bin, current pastor of nearby Haimen (Jiangsu). Recognised by the Holy See and the Chinese government since his ordination in 2010, according to various rumours he has been in the city since yesterday.

Msgr Shen's star is on the rise. He is head of the Council of Chinese Bishops, a body not recognised by the Holy See and linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since last month he is among the 11 Catholic representatives - and among the vice presidents - of the Chinese People's Consultative Political Conference (CPCPCC), which together with the much more important National People's Congress is called upon to formalise decisions already taken by President Xi Jinping and the Party leadership.

The bishop's seat in Shanghai has in fact been vacant for 10 years, since the death in April 2013 of Msgr Aloyisius Jin Luxian, the "official" bishop since 1988, then chosen by the "patriotic" Church loyal to the CPC.

In 2005, Msgr Jin was reconciled with the pope. The Holy See decided that Msgr Joseph Fan Zhongliang should be the ordinary bishop and Msgr Jin the auxiliary. As they are both very old, the Vatican asked them to think about a successor, which they recognised in Msgr Joseph Xing Wenzhi.

In 2012 Msgr. Xing resigned, for reasons still to be clarified, and in 2014 Msgr. Fan also died. The Church of Shanghai proceeded to choose a new auxiliary bishop in the person of Thaddeus Ma Daqin, ordained with a papal mandate and accepted by the government.

Since 2012, however, Bishop Ma has been under house arrest in the Sheshan seminary for daring to resign from the Patriotic Association immediately after his episcopal ordination. Although he later returned to the Party-dependent body, the government does not recognise him as bishop of the diocese and the faithful have no opportunity to meet him.

The signing in 2018, and renewal in October 2020 and 2022, of the Sino-Vatican Agreement on the Appointment of Bishops has not stopped the persecution of Catholics, especially unofficial (underground) ones.

In November, the Holy See denounced the Chinese authorities' violation of the agreement with the appointment of Bishop John Peng Weizhao as auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Jiangxi. Despite the many vacant sees, no installation of a bishop has taken place in China since 8 September 2021.

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