The 83-year-old Chinese language bishop finishes third on the state ceremony

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An 83-year-old Chinese bishop was deployed in a state-sanctioned church ceremony on June 9. This was the third bishop recognized by the communist regime since the Vatican and China signed an agreement on the appointment of bishops in 2018.

According to ucanews.com, Bishop Peter Lin Jiashan was officially appointed head of the Fuzhou Diocese in Fujian Province. Since 1997, Bishop Lin had refused to register with the government and was therefore not recognized by the Chinese authorities.

Bishop Joseph Cai Bingrui of Xiamen in Fujian Province led the ceremony. About 40 priests and 80 Catholics from the Fuzhou diocese attended, reportedly due to assembly restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fujian Province Department of Ethnic and Religious Affairs said that after the ceremony for Bishop Lin, Bishop Cai made a congratulatory speech on behalf of the Province's Catholic Patriotic Association and the Chinese Catholic Education Administration Committee.

Father Wang Yuliang, an official of the state-approved Bishops 'Conference in China, read a letter of approval from the Bishops' Conference.

Bishop Lin, 83, promised to obey God, fulfill a bishop's pastoral duties, and preach the gospel to lead the Fuzhou Diocese. He also vowed to be an active member of the Chinese Catholic Church.

The bishop's statement also states that priests and Catholics should respect the country's constitution, maintain national unity and social harmony, and love the country and the Church.

The statement also insisted that Catholics follow the directions to “sin the church in our country” and to help achieve the “dream of a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

A priest from Fuzhou who asked for anonymity told UCA News that the diocese had more than 100 priests, but only about 40 could attend the ceremony because the COVID-19 pandemic "is not over in the region yet" .

"The number of people who could attend the ceremony was limited," he said, adding that the participants were selected after a discussion among the priests.

However, some sources reported to UCA News that the entire diocese had not accepted Bishop Lin's public installation. Another local source told ucanews.com that at least a third of the diocesan priests had not signed the government document on civil registration of the clergy "because they were concerned about the future of the diocese."

The details of the Vatican-China Bishops' Agreement, which has always been referred to as “provisional,” have never been released, but are only expected to be valid for two years unless extended before September 2020, ucanews.com reported.

The appointment and appointment of bishops has been central to Vatican-Chinese relations for decades. The Catholic Church insisted that the bishops be appointed by the Pope, and the Chinese government has claimed that this would mean outside interference in China's internal affairs.

Catholic communities that have refused to register with the government and refused to follow government-appointed bishops are commonly referred to as underground churches. Bishop Lin had been one of these bishops.

However, many congregations had bishops who were elected locally but promised their unity and allegiance to the Pope, which meant that they were recognized by both the government and the Vatican.

When the Vatican approved the 2018 agreement, Pope Francis lifted the excommunication or irregular status of seven bishops ordained with government approval but not with the Vatican's consent.

The first bishop to be recognized by China under the Vatican-China agreement was Bishop Zhuang Jianjian of Shantou in January 2019. He immediately retired. Eight days later, China recognized Bishop Jin Lugang of Nanyang.

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