New bishop for post left vacant for 48 years in China

Antonio Xu Jiwei has been consecrated bishop of the city of Taizhou.

Vatican City: Antonio Xu Jiwei has been consecrated bishop of the city of Taizhou in China`s eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, filling an office that has been vacant for 48 years, the Vatican announced on Wednesday.

The July 10 ceremony was attended by about 1,000 Catholics and was presided over by three Chinese bishops.

The Vatican has a troubled relationship with officials in Beijing which has established a competing government-sanctioned Catholic Church which claims around five million members. About 11 million worshippers practise their religion at China`s underground churches.

Xu will oversee 1,000 faithful, 15 priests, 10 nuns, 25 churches and other places of worship.

The bishops overseeing Saturday`s ceremony are recognised by the Chinese government, according to the Vatican statement.

Xu, 75, had guided the diocese as diocesan administrator since 1999 and has official Vatican approval as the Taizhou bishop, according to Wednesday`s statement. He had been a priest for 25 years.


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