Beijing and Rome agree on bishop's appointment

In a clear sign of improving relations between the Vatican and Beijing, the Chinese government has recognized a bishop appointed by the Holy See.

Catholic World News reports that Tuesday's consecration of Bishop Joseph Xing Wenzhi as an auxiliary for the Shanghai Diocese was authorised by the government-approved "official" Church. But the new bishop announced that he had been nominated by the Holy See.

However AFP says Beijing insists that Bishop Xing was appointed because he was chosen and approved locally, and Vatican approval was not a factor.

"He was chosen by our Shanghai Catholic community and was approved by the Chinese Catholic Bishops College," said an official with the Shanghai Religious Affairs Bureau, who refused to be named.

Xing, a 42-year-old Chinese priest, was made auxiliary bishop in a ceremony led by Shanghai Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian, the representative of the government-backed Catholic church who at the age of 89 is giving up many of his duties.

Xing, who becomes bishop in the official Chinese church, reportedly announced during the ceremony he had been nominated by the Holy See, suggesting that he received full backing from the Pope.

Outspoken Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun (pictured) said in an interview with Hong Kong radio RTHK that the appointment signaled a warmer approach to differences that have pitted the two sides against each other for the last 54 years.

"Recently there have been several similar (cases) to this: bishops appointed by the Holy See and allowed to be ordained," Zen said. "The government always exercised much pressure so that they shouldn't make it public, but this time it's allowed to be made public.

"This is a breakthrough. It signifies a new openness of the government and is a very good step towards normalisation with the Holy See," Zen said.

Beijing and Rome agree on bishop's appointment (Catholic World News 28/6/05)
China says Vatican did not approve appointment of Shanghai bishop (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo 29/6/05)

China hopes for better Vatican ties (CathNews 21/4/05)
China and Vatican "at crossroads" (CathNews 12/4/05)
Vatican considering cutting ties with Taiwan (CathNews 6/4/05)

China: the government and Holy See ordain a bishop jointly for the first time (AsiaNews.it 28/6/05)
China and Vatican Agree on a Bishop (Zenit 28/6/05)
From Communist Militant to Underground Priest (Zenit 26/6/05)
Diplomatic relations with China still possible, Vatican official says (Catholic News Service 23/6/05)
Vatican officials look toward diplomatic ties with China (Catholic News Agency 24/6/05)
Vatican Official optimistic about relations With China (The Universe 24/6/05)
Vatican Official Optimistic About Relations With China (Zenit 23/6/05)

30 Jun 2005