Fr. Cui Qingqi has been ordained bishop of Wuhan. He had been administering the diocese since December 2012 while exercising the functions of deputy secretary of the Episcopal Conference controlled by Beijing. The Holy See spokesperson confirms that the ceremony took place as part of the Sino-Vatican agreement.
Pope Francis approved the appointment on June 23, 2021. Cui will be bishop of the capital of the Hubei province, Hankou/Wuhan, according to the name recognized by Rome.
Originally from the province of Shanxi, Fr. Francis Cui Qingqi is a Franciscan of the Friars Minor. He was born in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1991 in Hubei. He had been de facto in charge of the Diocese of Wuhan since December 2012, when the previous administrator, Fr. Shen Guoan, was forced to resign because he was not loyal enough to Beijing.
The ordination took place in the city that saw the first outbreak of Covid-19. This is the fourth ordination following the October 2020 renewal of the Sino-Vatican provisional agreement on episcopal appointments, the sixth since the signing of the initial agreement in 2018.
The new prelate, approved by the Holy See, was elected “democratically” on September 27, 2020 by church bodies linked to the Communist Party of China (CCP).
Since 2016, Fr. Cui has served as deputy secretary of the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China, an organization also controlled by the CCP.
This morning's ordination was celebrated by Bishop Ma Yinglin from Kunming, who is vice president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (ACPC), Bishop Shen Bin of Haimen, also vice president of ACPC, and H.E. Li Shan, Archbishop of Beijing, Vice-President of the Episcopal Conference.
Bishop Li Suguang of Jiangxi, who is president of the ACPC in that province, and Bishop Ding Lingbin of Changzhi, vice president and general secretary of the ACPC in Shanxi Province, also attended the episcopal ordination.
Fr. Yang Yu, assistant secretary of the Bishops' Conference, read the bull naming the new bishop.
Speaking to reporters, Vatican Press Office director Matteo Bruni confirmed that the ordination had taken place as part of the agreement with Beijing on episcopal appointments.
Mr. Bruni clarified that Fr. Francis Cui Qingqi was “appointed bishop of Hankou/Wuhan by the Holy Father on June 23, 2021. He is the sixth Chinese bishop appointed and ordained under the provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in China.”
The name of the diocese is important. St. Joseph's Cathedral is actually the seat of what, for the Vatican, was the Diocese of Hankou, as the city on the Yangtze River was once called, and today, the central part of the metropolis of Hubei.
The city of Wuhan today also includes the territories of what was for the Holy See the dioceses of Hanyang and Wuchang. The Bishops' Conference, controlled by the Communist authorities, independently created the Diocese of Wuhan by merging the three historic seats. This creation is normally the prerogative of the Holy See, which thus confirms a violation of its right that it has not even permitted from Catholic governments.