Pope Francis on Wednesday announced the nomination of a new Chinese bishop, the third in less than a week, in an apparent sign that a controversial 2018 agreement with Beijing governing the nomination of Chinese bishops is working.
Bishop Peter Wu Yishun was consecrated bishop of Minbei in Fujian in southeastern China, the Vatican said in a statement. He noted that Francis had named him bishop on December 6.
On Monday, the Vatican announced a new bishop for Weifang and said Francis had reorganized ecclesiastical territory and erected a new diocese to form the geographic delimitation of the area. Bishop Anthony Sun Wenjun had been appointed in April last year, but was consecrated on Monday, the Vatican said.
The Vatican said Francis made the decision to redraw Weifang’s borders “with the desire to promote the pastoral care of the Lord’s flock, and to better attend to their spiritual well-being.” He noted that the previous territory, called an apostolic prefecture, had been created in 1931 by Pope Pius XI.
On January 25, the Vatican announced the consecration of the new bishop of Zhengzhou, Tadeus Wang Yuesheng.
The Vatican said all nominations were carried out “within the framework” of the 2018 agreement between the Holy See and China.
The 2018 agreement, which has been renewed twice, was aimed at uniting China’s roughly 12 million Catholics, who have been divided between the official church and an underground church faithful to Rome. The underground church emerged when the Chinese Communist Party assumed power and diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China were severed.
Francis has said he has the final say in the bishop appointment process, but Beijing made a handful of bishop appointments unilaterally last year without the pope’s consent, amid a broader crackdown by the Chinese president. Xi Jinping against religious freedoms.
The Vatican relented and recognized the appointments after the fact.