Several significant developments for the Catholic Church in China have occurred this week, including a bishop’s appointment and the establishment of a new diocese on the mainland for the first time since Mao’s Communist revolution. Source: Crux.
On Monday, the Vatican announced the suppression of the apostolic prefecture of Yiduxian and the establishment of the Weifang Diocese in a bid to “promote the pastoral care of the Lord’s flock and to attend more effectively to its spiritual good”.
A Vatican statement said the decision to replace the Yiduxian prefecture with the Weifang Diocese was made in April 2023, and that at the same time, Bishop Anthony Sun Wenjun, 53, had been appointed to lead the diocese.
Bishop Wenjun’s episcopal ordination took place on Monday in the cathedral of Christ the King in Qingzhou, the former headquarters for the Apostolic Prefecture of Yiduxian, in a ceremony led by Bishop John Fang Xingyao of Linyi, honorary president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the state-sanctioned entity that governs the “official” Catholic church in China.
The establishment of Weifang Diocese marks the first formal creation of a new diocese by the Holy See in China since the Communist revolution in 1949.
According to AsiaNews, the new borders for the diocese were chosen by Chinese authorities based on existing urban divisions and were accepted by the Holy See.
Four days prior to the announcement of the establishment of the Diocese of Wenjun, the Vatican announced the ordination of Bishop Thaddeus Wang Yuesheng, who on December 16, 2023, was appointed Bishop of Zhengzhou in the Henan province by Pope Francis “in the framework of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China.”
The terms of that agreement, initially signed in 2018 and subsequently renewed by both sides, remain secret, and has been a source of controversy among critics who charge that it’s induced the Pope and his Vatican team to mute criticism of China’s record on human rights and religious freedom.
With new bishop, diocese, Pope extends policy of detente with China (By Elise Ann Allen, Crux)
Pope Francis creates ‘new’ diocese in China, accepting borders drawn by Beijing (By Courtney Mares, CNA)