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Pope creates new Chinese diocese; bishop installed

January 29, 2024

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CWN Editor's Note: Pope Francis has created a new diocese in Weifang, in China’s central Shandong province, and Bishop John Fang Xingyao was installed there on January 29.

The new bishop was approved by both the Vatican and the Chinese government— the second such appointment made this month under the terms of the secret agreement between Rome and Beijing. In total six bishops have been appointed since the agreement was reached in 2018— although about 40 dioceses in China still do not have a bishop.

The new diocese covers territory that was formerly part of the vicariate of Zhifu, a missionary territory established by Pope Pius XI in 1931. Today the are has a population of over 9 milion, of whom around 6,000 are Catholic. Pope Francis formally created the Weifang diocese in 2003, but the announcement was delayed until the installation of the new bishop.

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