A new bishop has been installed in China’s Wuhan (Hankow/Hankou) Diocese, making him the latest to be ordained under a deal agreed by the Vatican and the communist state.
Franciscan Father Francis Cui Qingqi was ordained bishop of Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province on Sept. 8, the feast day of the Nativity of Mary, with the approval of both the state and the Church.
Father Cui has been deputy secretary of the state-sanctioned Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) since 2016.
The 57-year-old is the sixth bishop to be ordained under the Vatican-China provisional agreement signed in 2018 and the fourth to be consecrated since the deal was renewed in October 2020.
The Sino-Vatican deal, whose provisions are still not public, reportedly allows the pope to approve and veto bishops nominated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Initially signed for two years, the agreement was renewed for another two years in October 2020.
Wuhan Diocese had been without a bishop since Bishop Bernardine Dong Guangqing died in May 2007.
Born in Shanxi province in 1964, Bishop Cui was ordained a priest in 1991
The consecration ceremony took place at St. Joseph Cathedral in Wuhan. It was led by Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming, president of the BCCCC.
BCCCC vice-presidents Bishop Joseph Shen Bin of Haimen and Bishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing were the concelebrants.
The local Church elected Father Cui to head the diocese on Sept. 17, 2020, according to the BCCCC report on its website.
The Vatican press office said on Sept. 8 that “Father Cui was appointed and ordained in the regulatory framework of the provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in China.”
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Pope Francis made the appointment on June 23, 2021, it added.
Bishop Li Suguang of Nanchang in neighboring Jiangxi province and Bishop Ding Lingbin of Changzhi in Shanxi province attended the ceremonies along with some 30 priests from Hubei province and some 200 nuns and Catholics of Wuhan Diocese.
Father Yang Yu, deputy secretary-general of the BCCCC, read out the approval letter, just as he did during the ordination of Coadjutor Bishop Anthony Li Hui of Pingliang in Gansu on July 28.
Born in Shanxi province in 1964, Bishop Cui was ordained a priest in 1991. He has been the administrator of Wuhan Diocese and parish priest of the cathedral since December 2012.
He was appointed deputy secretary of the BCCCC in 2016 and became the president provincial of the Catholic Patriotic Association of Hubei in January 2018.
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