POPE APPOINTS NEW CHINESE BISHOP

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Apostolic Succession Today - Globally

Pope appoints new Bishop of Hangzhou in China

On Saturday, June 22, Pope Francis appointed Giuseppe Yang Yongqiang as bishop of Hangzhou relocating him from Zhoucun in East China’s Shandong province. The appointment falls withinthe Agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China. The prelate had participated in the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. 

By Gianni Valente *

Giuseppe Yang Yongqiang is the new bishop of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province in China. "As part of the dialogue concerning the implementation of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China."

A Statement released by the Holy See Press Office last Saturday, June 22, "On June 12, 2024, the Holy Father appointed Giuseppe Yang Yongqiang as bishop of Hangzhou (Zhejiang province, China), transferring him from the See of Zhoucun (Shandong province, China)." The solemn Eucharistic liturgy for the bishop's installation in his new episcopal seat will be celebrated in Hangzhou Cathedral on Thursday, June 27.

Giuseppe Yang Yongqiang was born on April 11, 1970, in Boxing (Shandong), into a Catholic family. In 1987, he entered the Holy Spirit Seminary in Jinan. He conducted his philosophical and theological studies at that seminary and at Sheshan Seminary in Shanghai. On June 15, 1995, he was ordained a priest. After serving as a parish priest, he was sent to further his education at the National Seminary in Beijing. Subsequently, he served as a lecturer at the Holy Spirit Seminary. Appointed coadjutor bishop of Zhoucun, he was consecrated on November 15, 2010, and on February 8, 2013, he succeeded Bishop Ma Xuesheng in leading that diocese. On June 12, 2024, Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Hangzhou.

In October 2023, together with another bishop from Mainland China, Antonio Yao Shen of the Diocese of Jining/Wumeng, Giuseppe Yang Yongqiang participated in the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme "For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission." Later, in an exclusive interview with Fides News Agency, Bishop Yang said he was "honoured" to have been invited to participate in the Synod of Bishops Assembly held in Rome, stating that it was an "opportunity to share my faith journey while listening to that of others."

In that same interview, Bishop Yang recounted the blossoming of his priestly vocation: "I come from a family with a Catholic tradition, and the faith of the elders in my family had a great influence on me, especially that of my grandmother. I remember that she would ask us to read prayers every evening and also to bow before the statues or images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, or other saints before going to bed. She herself would continue praying late into the night." He added, "Once, my mother went on a pilgrimage to the Mount of Our Lady in Huzhuang. When she returned, she told us she had seen some young seminarians sitting and reading in the church in the western area of Jinan, appearing calm and disciplined. Her eyes shone as she spoke. Her words stayed with me, planting the seed of priesthood within me."

In the interview, the new bishop of Hangzhou also cited a passage from the De Imitatione Christi that inspired him on his journey: "Abstain from unnecessary conversations. As much as possible, stay away from the agitation of people. Indeed, even if one attends with purity of intention, dealing with worldly affairs is a significant impediment, for soon one becomes tainted by vanities and enslaved. More than once, I wished I had remained silent and not gone among people."

Bishop Yang also shared a personal story related to his priestly ordination: "My father presented me to Father Li Chonglun, the diocesan head, and said, 'Today I hand this boy over to the Church. I will not rest in peace until he is ordained.' I never thought his words would turn out to be prophetic. The day after my priestly ordination by Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian, I received a phone call informing me that my father had just died. I burst into tears. His words were like those of Simeon in the Gospel of Luke, also cited in the Compline prayers: 'Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word...' Therefore, every time I recite those prayers, it feels as if I am praying for my father."

The Diocese of Hangzhou is home to 30,000 Catholics. The episcopal seat was vacant. On June 25, 2000, Father Matteo Cao Xiangde received an illegitimate episcopal ordination (as it was not granted by the pontifical mandate) as bishop of Hangzhou. Subsequently, on June 8, 2008, the Holy See legitimized him without granting him jurisdiction. Bishop Cao died on July 9, 2021, at the age of 92, after a long illness.

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