【完】天亞社英文新聞： CHINA – Beijing recognizes open Bishop of Bameng
CHINA - Beijing recognizes open Bishop of Bameng
HONG KONG (UCAN) – Bishop Matthias Du Jiang of Bameng (Shaanba) has been openly installed on April 8, almost six years after he was clandestinely consecrated in 2004.
The ceremony at the Sanshenggong Church meant the government now officially recognizes the Vatican-approved prelate as the head of the government-approved Church community of Bameng – or the Bayan Nur League – in the western part of Inner Mongolia.
Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming, vice-chairperson of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) who arrived from Beijing, concelebrated the installation Mass.
The 90-minute ceremony was joined by 300 Catholics and 20 priests from local and neighboring dioceses.
Among them was Father Paul Meng Qinglu of Hohhot who will be ordained on April 18 with papal mandate and approval from the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China.
Church sources told UCA News the atmosphere has been tense in recent days as there were many government officials and public security officers around. The Internet and phone systems were also under surveillance.
Bishop Du was born on Nov. 20, 1963 and ordained a priest in 1989. He has been the parish priest of Sanshenggong Church since 1997 and was appointed the vicar general of the diocese three years later.
He was secretly consecrated on May 7 2004 just before the funeral of his predecessor Bishop Francis Xavier Guo Zhengji who died on May 3.
The government did not recognize Bishop Du’s episcopal status as it did not go through the process of “self-election and self-ordination.”
Bishop Du has until now not been allowed to perform episcopal ministry but he could wear a red hat and crucifix in solemn Masses and Church activities without any intervention, sources said.
“I think the bishop’s working in a low profile way despite encountering many difficulties has finally gained the recognition that he deserves,” one of the sources said, adding that all the bishop’s priests are united with him.
There are about 40,000 Catholics in the open Church community of Bameng, where in the same region there is also an underground community led by 92-year-old Bishop Joseph Ma Zhongmu, an ethnic Mongolian.
CH09366/1596 April 8, 2010 33 EM-lines (350 words)
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_(博讯记者：小毛先生) (博讯 boxun.com)