This would be the first time that China has ever given permission for its prelates to attend a synod
Two Chinese bishops may participate in the Synod on Young People and Vocational Discernment, according to a report on the Italian website Vatican Insider on September 26. The bishops in question are said to be Bishop Jean Baptiste Yang Xaoting and Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai.
According to the report, the two prelates have obtained the necessary authorization to leave China and to go to Rome in October for the synod of bishops, which would represent a first since the creation of the synod in 1965.
Chinese bishops have been invited in the past without success, under John Paul II in 1998, and under Benedict XVI in 2005. They never received the necessary permissions from China to make the trip to Rome.
Bishop Yang Xiaoting, 54, is a coadjutor bishop of Yan’an. He was appointed in 2006 by Benedict XVI and received episcopal ordination in 2010 with the Chinese government’s agreement. Bishop Guo Jincai, meanwhile, was appointed to Chengde in 2010 by the Chinese government without the consent of Rome. He is also the Secretary-General of the Chinese Bishops’ Conference, still not recognized by the Holy See.
Bishop Guo Jincai, however, is one of the seven bishops whose excommunication the pope lifted just last week, on September 22, in the context of the negotiations that led to the provisional agreement between China and the Holy See.
The pontiff also officially erected the Diocese of Chengde, a suffragan diocese of the archdiocese of Peking. It covers approximately 15,000 square miles, has 25,000 faithful in 12 parishes, and has seven priests and a dozen nuns.
The Holy See and the People’s Republic of China reached an agreement concerning the appointment of bishops on September 22. On September 26, the Pope directed a message to Chinese Catholics, urging them to become agents of reconciliation. He asked “official” bishops reintegrated into Catholic communion to express “the rediscovered unity” through concrete gestures.