Chinese government representatives joined 2,000 Catholics and 100 priests for the episcopal ordination of Bishop Anthony Dang Mingyan July 26 in the Archdiocese of Xi’an.
Bishop Dang’s nomination was the second approved by both the Vatican and the Chinese government in the last three months, reported AsiaNews.
AsiaNews/Ucan reported that the 38-year-old bishop will serve as an auxiliary to Archbishop Anthony Li Duan, known for his faith and great love for the Pope. The archbishop presided at the celebration at St. Francis Cathedral in the capital city.
Unlike last month’s ordination in Shanghai, no priests or guests from outside China were present. However, two officials from the State Administration of Religious Affairs, as well as two officials of the Beijing-based bishop’s council and of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association attended.
Many believe Bishop Dang will be the successor to Archbishop Li, who was diagnosed with cancer last year and has been in and out of hospital for treatment since then.
Bishop Dang was born to a Catholic family in 1967, the eighth of nine children. He entered Xi'an Seminary in 1985 and then studied at Sheshan Seminary (Shanghai). He was ordained a priest in 1991 and served as pastor of Saint Anthony’s Church, since it was established in 2003. He also served as director of the diocesan financial commission.
The new bishop reportedly said one of his main tasks will be to motivate priests and laypeople to evangelize.
Archbishop Li, 78, is known as a defender of Church freedom. For this reason, he often undergoes checks and long periods of close surveillance.
The vice president of the Bishops' Council of the Catholic Church in China was once rumored to be the “cardinal in pectore,” never revealed by John Paul II. But Archbishop Li stated publicly that he “never received any such official notice.”
Archbishop Li opened a formation center for women religious in Xi’an’s regional seminary in 1997. He also opened the country’s first Church-run social service center in 2002.
The Archdiocese of Xi’an was established in 1946 and includes more than 20,000 Catholics.