A poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping hangs next to a crucifix on the wall of the house of a Tibetan Catholic on Christmas Eve in Niuren village, in China's Yunnan province, in this Dec. 24, 2018, file photo. CNS photo/Tyrone Siu, Reuters

Bishop installed in Shanghai, apparently without Vatican agreement

  • April 4, 2023

VATICAN CITY -- In an apparent breach of the Vatican's agreement with China on the appointment of bishops, the bishop of Haimen was installed as the bishop of Shanghai April 4.

"The Holy See had been informed a few days ago of the Chinese authorities' decision to transfer Bishop (Joseph) Shen Bin of Haimen to the Diocese of Shanghai and learned from the media of the installation this morning," said Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office.

"For the time being, I have nothing to say about the Holy See's assessment of the matter," Bruni added in a brief statement April 4.

In 2018, the Vatican and the government of China signed an agreement outlining procedures for ensuring Catholic bishops are elected by the Catholic community in China and approved by the pope before their ordinations and installations. The agreement was renewed in 2020 and again in 2022.

But in November, just a month after the latest renewal, the Vatican issued a public statement of regret, essentially accusing the Chinese government of violating the agreement when Bishop John Peng Weizhao of Yujiang was installed as auxiliary bishop of Jiangxi, "a diocese not recognized by the Holy See."

According to AsiaNews, a news agency run by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, Bishop Shen, who is president of the government-related Council of Chinese Bishops, was installed April 4.

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