For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced.
Pope Francis lifted the excommunications or irregular status of seven bishops who had been ordained with government approval, but not the Vatican’s consent, the Vatican announced on 22nd September. A few hours earlier, representatives of the Vatican and the Chinese government signed what they described as a “provisional agreement” on the appointment of bishops.
“With a view to sustaining the proclamation of the Gospel in China, the Holy Father Pope Francis has decided to readmit to full ecclesial communion the remaining ‘official’ bishops ordained without pontifical mandate,” the Vatican said, listing their names.
The pope also included in the list Bishop Anthony Tu Shihua, who, before dying on 4th January 2017, “had expressed the desire to be reconciled with the Apostolic See,” the Vatican said.
Regularising the bishops’ status, the Vatican said, Pope Francis hopes “a new process may begin that will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome, leading to the full communion of all Chinese Catholics,” some of whom steadfastly have refused to participate in activities or parishes under the leadership of bishops not recognised by Rome.
Picture: A priest celebrates Mass in 2012 in a makeshift chapel in a village near Beijing. For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced on 22nd September. (CNS photo/Reuters).