China / Society

Country's first bishop ordained in 3 years

By Xu Wei (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-11 07:04

Govt, Vatican concur on new appointment

Country's first bishop ordained in 3 years

The Reverend Joseph Zhang Yilin is ordained a Catholic bishop of Anyang, Henan province, during a ceremony attended by more than 1,500 people, including 75 priests and 120 nuns on Aug 4,2015. [Photo by Li Jianlin/ For China Daily] 

The Catholic diocese in Anyang, Henan province, has ordained the country's first Catholic bishop in more than three years-an appointment recognized by the country's religious authorities and the Roman Catholic Church.

Father Joseph Zhang Yinlin, 44, was ordained coadjutor bishop of Anyang on Aug 4 in a ceremony attended by more than 1,500 people, including 75 priests and 120 nuns, said Li Jianlin, a spokesman for the Catholic diocese in Henan province.

"The Henan diocese has been trying to cultivate younger bishops to preside over its seven subordinate dioceses, since all current bishops are elderly," he said in a phone interview.

Zhang was elected as candidate to be coadjutor bishop of Anyang diocese on April 29, and the ceremony was postponed until August "because of the preparation work required," said Li.

The event received extensive coverage by Vatican Radio, the voice of the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church. It noted that the ordination was approved by the Vatican.

Vatican Radio also noted that the ordination was the first ceremony in three years and the first since the Vatican and China restarted their dialogue in June last year.

Zhang said that he would fulfill the responsibility of a coadjutor bishop, and lead the Catholics in the diocese to respect the country's Constitution and safeguard the country's unity and stability.

Li said extended efforts from the diocese and close coordination with the authorities contributed to the ordination.

"We tried to make ourselves transparent to the authorities, and would invite them to our bimonthly work conferences to let them know what we are doing," he said.

He added that for many bishops, the approval from both the Vatican and the government is important.

"It would pose a lot a trouble if you are a bishop not recognized by the Vatican," he said.

The Henan diocese also has another Vatican-approved candidate for bishop, Father Cosmos Ji Chengyi of the Zhumadian diocese, he said. However, the date for his ordination has not been fixed.

"The Zhumadian diocese still does not have a well-maintained church to host the ordination ceremony," he said.

"We are still fixing one of the churches as the venue for the ceremony."



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