A new bishop was consecrated on July 28 in China, the fifth since the signing of the interim agreement on the appointment of bishops between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China.
This is Msgr. Antonio Li Hui, coadjutor bishop of Pingliang, in Gansu province in northwest China.
Bishop Li Hui was appointed by the Pope on January 11, as confirmed by the director of the Holy See's Press Office, Matteo Bruni.
The episcopal consecration was conferred by the Bishop of Kunming, Yunnan Province, Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin.
Joseph Ma Yinglin was born in 1965. He is a member of the Patriotic Association of the Church of China. He is “bishop” of the Kunming diocese.
Bishop Ma Yinglin was consecrated bishop on April 30, 2006. This coronation did not have the approval of the Vatican.
Indeed, for a few years there was an informal arrangement, according to which new bishops of Chinese Catholic dioceses had to seek the approval of the Pope before their ordination.
This arrangement was broken with the consecration of Ma, who had served as secretary of the Council of Catholic Bishops - a sort of episcopal conference unrecognized by the Holy See - and had held various positions within the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
This association is actually a division of the Chinese government's Religious Affairs Bureau and the body that controls the Church, and whose statutes include the goal of creating a National Church detached from the Holy See.
In a warning issued the day before the ordination, Cardinal Zen warned that “to carry out a consecration without the approval of the Holy See is to intentionally sabotage Sino-Vatican relations.”
On May 4, 2006, the Holy See press office declared that Ma had been automatically excommunicated for being consecrated without the approval of the Pope.
On September 22, 2018, Pope Francis lifted the excommunication of Joseph Ma Yinglin and six other bishops previously appointed by the Chinese government without a papal mandate.
According to the new agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China, a bishop of the Patriotic Association carried out the consecration of this new bishop, after the communist government had approved the candidate.
The fact that the text of the agreement has not been made public is understandable when we see how the Church in China has been delivered, bound hand and foot, to the Patriotic Association of the Church of China, which is an offshoot of the Chinese Communist Party.