Chinese authorities install 'official' prelate in place of imprisoned bishop
August 09, 2010
A Chinese bishop who left the “underground” Church to join the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association has been installed as the bishop of the Baoding diocese. To complicate matters, the “underground” Church in Baoding already has a bishop, who has been imprisoned since 1997.
The appointment of Bishop Francis An Shuxin to head the Baoding diocese—one of China’s largest, with an estimated 50,000 Catholic faithful—was made by the Patriotic Association without approval from the Holy See. At his installation, the presiding bishop was Ma Yinglin, who is not recognized by the Vatican.
The underground Church in Baoding recognizes Bishop James Su Zhimin as its leader. But he is being held prisoner by the government, and his whereabouts are unknown.
Bishop Francis An Shuxin was once an auxiliary bishop of Baoding, serving under Bishop Su Zhimin. But last year he shocked fellow members of the “underground” Church by announcing that he had joined the Patriotic Association, explaining that he took that step for the cause of Church unity.
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