The Vatican on Wednesday confirmed the second episcopal consecration in China under last year’s Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and China. Monsignor Stefano Xu Hongwei was consecrated bishop on 28 August under the Pontifical Mandate.
The Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China, on the appointment of bishops in China, was signed in Beijing on 22 September 2018.
Nearly a year on, the deal is bearing fruit.
On Wednesday, 28 August, Monsignor Stefano Xu Hongwei, was consecrated Coadjutor Bishop of Hanzhong (Shaanxi) in China.
Responding to the questions received from journalists, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, made the following statement on Wednesday in the Vatican.
“I can confirm that also H.E. Mgr. Stefano Xu Hongwei, who has been consecrated today, 28th August 2019, Coadjutor Bishop of Hanzhong (Shaanxi) in China, received the Papal Mandate and his ordination also took place in the framework of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China signed in Beijing on 22nd September 2018”.
Bishop Xu became the second bishop to be consecrated after the Provisional Agreement, following that of Monsignor Antonio Yao Shun of Jining/Wulanchabu, Inner Mongolia (China), on Monday.
“I can confirm that H.E. Mgr. Antonio Yao Shun, who has been consecrated Bishop of Jining/Wulanchabu, Inner Mongolia (China), received the Papal Mandate, as was also stated by the Ordaining Bishop during the ceremony yesterday, 26th August 2019.”
This is how the director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, responded to questions from journalists. “The Episcopal Ordination of H.E. Mgr. Antonio Yao is the first to take place in the framework of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China signed in Beijing on 22nd September 2018,” noted Bruni.
Antonio Yao Shun was ordained bishop of the diocese of Jining, in the northern province of Inner Mongolia where about 70,000 Catholics live, by Paolo Meng Qinglu of the diocese of Hohhot. Other co-consecrating bishops were Mattia Du Jiang from the diocese of Bameng, Li Jing from the diocese of Ningxia and Paolo Meng Ningyou from the diocese of Taiyuan. At present all the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the Pope. Hundreds of priests and religious from the surrounding areas were present at the ceremony.
The consecration ceremony of Bishop Xu in the Cathedral of St. Michael in Hanzhong was presided over by Bishop Ma Yinglin of Kunming (Yunnan), the president of the Council of Chinese bishops, AsiaNews reported. Five other bishops and 80 priests concelebrated the Mass in the presence of around a thousand people.
AsiaNews also provided other details of the 44-year old bishop, born on 16 January 1975. In September 1993 he entered the minor seminary of the diocese of Minnan. In September 1996, he entered the seminary of Xian and in July 2002, he was ordained a priest in the diocese of Hanzhong. In August of the same year, he was assigned as parish priest of the Nanzheng District Parish, with the task of helping in the pastoral work of Hanzhong Cathedral.
From July 2004 to June 2008 he studied at the Pontifical Urbanianum University in Rome (Vatican), obtaining a pastoral license; from November 2008 to April 2010 he continued his pastoral studies in the diocese of Vancouver (Canada).
In April 2010 he was appointed pastor of West Street Cathedral, in the Hantai district. In December 2015 he became a member of the Catholic Provincial Committee (“the two sessions”: Patriotic Association and Council of Bishops).
In 2012, and in 2017, he was also a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Consultative Political Conference in the district of Ren Hantai. On 11 April 2019, he was chosen as bishop of the Diocese of Hanzhong.
The Diocese of Hanzhong is an old mission of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME). It has about 30,000 faithful, served by 30 priests and 11 women religious with 20,000 faithful.
“Misericordes sicut Pater” (Merciful like the Father) is the episcopal motto chosen by Bishop Yao Shun. The same words as that of the Jubilee of Mercy requested by Pope Francis. The formation of Yao Shun, who is now 54 years old, took place in the National Seminary in Beijing. After that he specialised in liturgy abroad, in the United States and in the Philippines: he studied at St. John’s University in New York and the Paul VI Institute of Liturgy in Malaybalay. After returning to China, he continued to teach Liturgy at the National Seminary in Beijing, where he was also spiritual director. He held a position of responsibility at the National Liturgical Committee. Subsequently, in 2010, he returned to the diocese of Jining to assist his predecessor Giovanni Liu Shigong, who died at the age of 90 in 2017.
In an unanimous decision he was named bishop of the diocese of Jining last April by the representatives of the diocese in a meeting led by Bishop Meng Qinglu. Among the representatives, the predominant component was made up of priests flanked by some lay and religious representatives. After careful evaluation, Yao Shun received the apostolic mandate and nomination by the Pope.