He is the 6th bishop to be ordained with papal approval under new arrangement.
Franciscan Father Francis Cui Qingqi was ordained bishop of Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province, on September 8, the director of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni, announced. He said he was “appointed by the Holy Father” on June 23 and is the sixth Chinese bishop appointed and ordained under the provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in China.
Father Francis Cui Qingqi is a Franciscan of the Friars Minor born in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1991. As AsiaNews indicated last May, his “democratic” election as head of the diocese of Wuhan took place on September 27, 2020.
The Wuhan diocese has had no one at its head since 2007. The last bishop, Bernardine Dong Gangqing, was ordained without the approval of the Pope in 1958. In fact, it was in Wuhan’s St. Joseph cathedral where that illicit ordination and the second of China’s illicit ordinations took place.
The agreement was made in 2018 and extended for another two years in October 2020, though the text of it has never been publicly released, by mutual agreement. The Pope’s Secretary of State has called it merely a “point of departure,” but the objective of the agreement was to halt the illicit ordination of bishops in China, that is, the ordination of bishops without the pope’s approval. Now, Beijing suggests the candidates, and the pope gives final approval.
However, according to AsiaNews, in the case of Bishop Francis, “the ecclesiastical authorities loyal to the Chinese Communist Party have only submitted his name to the Holy See,” leading the agency to question the pope’s freedom to refuse or accept the nomination.
New bishops are to be elected by the local episcopate from candidates endorsed by the Chinese authorities and subsequently approved by Pope Francis after an investigation.
Pope promotes dialogue
“China is not easy, but I am convinced that we must not give up on dialogue,” Pope Francis reiterated in a recent interview with Spanish radio Cope . “We can be deceived in the dialogue, we can make mistakes, all that … but dialogue is the way to go.”
Located in central China, the city of Wuhan has more than eleven million inhabitants. In January 2020, the city was in the spotlight as it could have been the first source of contamination for the Covid-19 virus.