An illegitimate bishop was today elected president of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) while a Vatican-approved bishop became head of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA).
The pope’s letter of 2007 indicates that holding the CCPA position was incompatible to Church doctrine.
Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming, 45, who was ordained in 2006 and still has not received papal approval, was elected BCCCC president by 312 votes for and one abstention on the last day of the Eighth National Congress of Catholic Representatives.
Bishop Johan Fang Xingyao of Linyi, 57, who is in communion with the pope, was elected CCPA chairperson with 310 votes for and three abstentions.
They were the only candidates for the top posts of the two open Church bodies which are not recognized by the Vatican.
Church observers told ucanews.com that Vatican-approved bishops would find it even harder to avoid concelebrating with Bishop Ma or decline his presence in future liturgical activities.
The Vatican will also be embarrassed to see its future bishop candidates receiving BCCCC approval marked with the seal of an illegitimate bishop, they said.
There were 313 representatives - 45 bishops, 158 priests, 23 nuns and 87 lay people, taking part in the election in the morning. They cast their votes by a show of hands.
The representatives to the congress met state leaders at the Great Hall of the People in the afternoon after the three-day meeting concluded.
Among the younger-generation bishops, two were absent from the congress - Bishop Joseph Li Liangui of Cangzhou (Xianxian), who went missing, and Bishop Francis Lu Shouwang of Yichang, who is very sick.
Anthony Liu Bainian, CCPA vice-chairman since 1992, and the 94-year-old Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai, who also took leave, was promoted to be honorary presidents of the two Church bodies.
Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai of Chengde is BCCCC secretary general. Some Church people had expected him to assume a key post when he was ordained without papal mandate on Nov. 20.
Together with Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu of Mindong, who was ordained without papal mandate in 2000, there are three illegitimate bishops now among the BCCCC new leaders.
New BCCCC leaders:
President: Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin
Vice presidents: Bishops Peter Fang Jianping, Johan Fang Xingyao, Joseph Li Shan, Paul Pei Junmin and John Baptist Yang Xiaoting and Vincent Zhan Silu
Secretary general: Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai
New CCPA leaders:
Chairperson: Bishop Johan Fang Xingyao
Vice-chairpersons: Bishops Joseph Guo Jincai, Joseph Ma Yinglin, Paul Meng Qinglu and Joseph Shen Bin; Fathers Joseph Huang Bingzhang, Paul Lei Shiyin and Joseph Yue Fusheng; Sister Wu Lin; and Layman Liu Yuanlong and Shu Nanwu
Secretary general: Liu Yuanlong
Bishop Ma became the BCCCC secretary general in 1998 and assumed also the post of CCPA vice chairperson in 2004. He is one of the seven Catholic members in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), top advisory body of the Chinese government. Before that he was a deputy of the National People’s Congress, the Chinese parliament 2003-2008.
Bishop Johan Fang received his episcopal ordination in 1997. He became BCCCC vice president in 2004 and is a current member of the CPPCC.