China: Ordination and Appointment of 6th Bishop

In Keeping with the Provisional Agreement on Episcopal Appointments in the Country

Wuhan St. Joseph Cathedral © Hubei Local Government

“In response to journalists’ questions, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, that the “Episcopal Ordination took place today in Wuhan, the Chinese province of Hubei, of The Reverend Francis Cui Qingqi, whom the Holy Father appointed as Bishop of Hankou/Wuhan on June 23, 2021. He is the sixth Chinese Bishop appointed and ordained in the framework of the Provisional Agreement on the Appointment of Bishops in China.”

The Provisional Agreement

 The Provisional Agreement between Continental China and the Holy See, for the appointment of Bishops in the Asian country, was signed in Beijing on September 22, 2018, and expired on October 22, 2020. It was a historic Agreement, after years of conversations, which weren’t political but pastoral.

The text, which wasn’t made public, addressed the “appointment of Bishops, a subject of great importance for the life of the Church, and (created) the conditions for wider bilateral collaboration,” said the official statement. It was renewed the same day, October 22, for two years.

On the expiration of the validity of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the Peoples’ Republic of China, signed in Beijing on September 22, 2018, and which came into force a month later, both parties agreed to extend the phase of the experimental implementation of the Provisional Agreement for another two years,” stated a press release of the Vatican, published that same day,

“Believing that the beginning of the implementation of the mentioned Agreement, of ecclesial and pastoral fundamental value, has been positive” and thanks “to the good communication and collaboration between the Parties on the subject agreed,” the Holy See has decided to continue “the open and constructive dialogue to promote the life of the Catholic Church and the good of the Chinese people,” concludes the text.

Agreement with China, the Importance of Dialogue

 In his interview with the Pope on COPE’s radio network, the Spanish journalist Carlos Herrera mentioned those people who are not in favor of renewing the Agreement that the Vatican signed with China, “as it endangers its moral authority.” In face of this, Pope Francis said: “When I was a layman and parish priest I also liked to mark the Bishop’s way. It’s a temptation that I would say is even licit if done with goodwill.”

The question of China isn’t easy; however, I’m convinced that dialogue must not be given up. You can be deceived in dialogue, you can be mistaken, all that . . . but it is the way. Closure is never the way. What has been achieved in China up to now was at least to dialogue . . . on something concrete, such as the appointment of new Bishops — slowly.”

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester