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Cardinal Stephen Chow, left, and Archbishop Joseph Li Shan concelebrate Mass in the cathedral of the Beijing Archdiocese in April (CNS/Hong Kong Diocese via La Civiltà Cattolica)

Beijing Bishop Joseph Li Shan will visit Hong Kong later this month, following a similar visit of Hong Kong’s Cardinal Stephen Chow to mainland China earlier this year. Source: Crux.

In a brief statement on Friday, the Diocese of Hong Kong said that in accepting an invitation from Cardinal Chow, Bishop Li will make a five-day visit to Hong Kong beginning November 15.

“During this reciprocal visit, Bishop Li will meet with the Bishop of the Diocese of Hong Kong and different diocesan offices to promote exchanges and interactions between the two dioceses,” the statement said.

Bishop Li is president of the state-sponsored Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), which has transferred and appointed bishops without Rome’s approval, despite a 2018 agreement on episcopal appointments.

Friday’s announcement signals the latest in a series of steps taken by Cardinal Chow and Vatican officials to bolster ties between mainland China and the church abroad.

Cardinal Chow, who was appointed as Bishop of Hong Kong in 2021 and who was made a cardinal by Pope Francis on September 30, has frequently spoken of the need to “build bridges” with China and has voiced his desire for Hong Kong to be a “bridge-building” church, promoting cordial exchanges between Rome and the state-run Church on the mainland.

For decades, Hong Kong has been a Catholic stronghold on the edge of mainland China, where Catholics and members of other religions have at times faced persecution under the officially atheist Chinese Communist Party rule.

The Vatican has sought to establish stronger ties with China, and in 2018 signed a provisional agreement with the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops aimed at unifying the official, government-sanctioned Church and the so-called “underground” Church loyal to Rome.

While that deal has repeatedly been violated by Chinese authorities, Pope Francis has gone to great lengths to reach out to China, praising them publicly and sending clear messages of assurance during his August 31-September 4 visit to Mongolia.


Beijing bishop to visit Hong Kong in latest effort to boost ties with mainland (By Elise Ann Allen, Crux)