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The unusual new normal on Chinese bishops’ appointments

The appointment of the sixth Chinese bishop to be named under the terms of a deal between the Holy See and Beijing was announced on Wednesday. 

The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association announced the consecration of a new bishop, Francis Cui Qingqi, to lead the Diocese of Hankou-Wuhan. The appointment was subsequently confirmed by the Vatican.   

The consecration of a new bishop for China, where dozens of dioceses remain vacant, should be big news. But the way the appointment was announced, both in China and in Rome, was unusual.And it could suggest ongoing dysfunction at the heart of the Church’s agreement with the Chinese Communist Party.

Customarily, episcopal appointments are announced in the Vatican’s daily news bulletin, usually months before bishops are actually consecrated and installed. Bishop Cui’s appointment was not announced in that way. 

Instead, the director of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni, released a brief statement Wednesday confirming the bishop’s appointment and consecration

Bruni made the statement “in response to questions from journalists,” and said the bishop’s appointment had been made by Pope Francis on June 23 of this year. 

The Vatican offered no explanations as to why the appointment was not announced by the Vatican in June, why it had not appeared in the day’s list of resignations and appointments, and whether Pope Francis had actually approved it.

The sequence of events was, in a word, strange, and inconsistent with the Vatican’s way of doing things. 

Read more at The Pillar

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