Home Catholic Church & Asia 'Underground' Catholic bishop in China named auxiliary bishop

‘Underground’ Catholic bishop in China named auxiliary bishop

Bishop Pen was presented by official Catholic organizations controlled by the Communist Party of China as a role model for "Sinicization"

An “underground” Catholic bishop in China who was secretly ordained with a papal mandate in 2014 and was later arrested by Chinese authorities, has been named auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Jiangxi this week.

A report on AsiaNews said Bishop John Peng Weizhao has been installed as auxiliary prelate on November 24 in Nanchang in the presence of abouot 200 people in a service led by Bishop John Baptist Li Suguang, vice president of the Chinese Catholic Bishops’ Conference, a body not recognized by the Holy See.

Bishop Peng, 56, studied at the National Seminary in Beijing and became a priest in 1989. He was secretly ordained bishop of Yujiang with a mandate from Pope Francis on April 10 2014 as the successor to Bishop Thomas Zeng Jingmu, then head of the local underground Church who spent 23 years in prison and died in 2016.

A few weeks after his ordination in 2014, Bishop Peng was arrested and was released in November 2014.

Jiangxi has now two bishops, 58-year-old Bishop Li Suguang, official bishop of Nanchang (the capital of the province) since 2010, and Bishop Peng as auxiliary, “something impossible without an agreement with the Holy See,” said AsiaNews.

As AsiaNews reported two years ago, after the 2018 Agreement on episcopal appointments, the underground Church in Yujiang came under intense pressure to join China’s official Church.

The report said Bishop Peng “probably came under tremendous pressure.”

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On September 22, he told the clergy in his diocese that he had resigned as bishop of Yujiang and accepted the government’s plan to integrate all the dioceses under the Diocese of Jiangxi.

On October 11, he took part in the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the bishopric of the new unified diocese that will be built in Nanchang.

During the occasion, Bishop Pen was presented by official Catholic organizations controlled by the Communist Party of China as a role model for “Sinicization,” the key word indicated by Xi Jinping for the future of religions in China.

According to China Catholic, a Catholic website controlled by the communist party, the bishop swore to “faithfully preach the gospel, lead the priests and Catholics of the Diocese of Jiangxi, abide by the national constitution, safeguard the unity of the motherland and social harmony, love the country and religion, adhere to the principle of independence and self-management of the Church, adhere to the direction of Sinicization of Catholicism in our country, actively guide Catholicism to adapt to socialist society, and contribute to the realisation of the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” – from a report on AsiaNews

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