Chinese bishop election could test Vatican-China ties

The vote in Chengdu

Last Thursday China held its first bishop election since Pope Francis assumed the papacy in what will be a key test of relations between Beijing and the Holy See, which must decide whether to endorse the candidate, reports Ucanews.

Father Joseph Tang Yuange of Chengdu diocese in southwestern Sichuan won against two other priests in two rounds of voting, in the presence of Bishops Luo Xuegang of Yibin and Joseph Chen Gong’ao of Nanchong, the only two Vatican-approved prelates in the province. Government officials were also present, as is normal at bishop candidate elections in China.

'Among the voters which included priests, deacons, nuns and laypersons, 39 votes went to Fr Tang and eight voted against him,' said a Church source who took part in the poll at a Chengdu hotel.

The Chinese bishops’ conference, which is not approved by the Vatican, must now decide whether to approve Tang, a sensitive process which has caused disputes between Beijing and the Vatican in the past. It remains unclear whether the Vatican will endorse Tang to become a bishop.

There has been a vacancy for a bishop in Chengdu since the previous bishop died in 1998. Father Simon Li Zhigang became the new bishop candidate in May, 2011 but died shortly afterwards of liver cancer aged 48.

The move to elect a new bishop candidate may also be seen as test of relations between the Holy See and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who took office a day after Francis became pope in March last year.

Photo: Thursday's vote in Chengdu 

FULL STORY Bishop election could test Vatican-China ties

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