The Chinese priest, Father Joseph Li Shan was appointed the Archbishop of Beijing on September 21st after receiving approval from the Vatican.
According to UCA News, this is the first time in over 50 years that the Vatican paper has carried news on the ordination of a new bishop in mainland China. This draws hope to those in the Vatican that their dealings with China will continue to improve.
Archbishop Ferdando Filoni, the third-highest Vatican official and an expert regarding Vatican-China relations, stated that it “is undoubtedly a positive sign” that Archbishop Li Shan is recognized by the Vatican and the Chinese government.
This comes in the wake of Pope Benedict expressing the Church’s desire for greater unity within the Church in China in his recent “Letter to the Church in China”, saying that he hoped “that in the course of a respectful and open dialogue between the Holy See and the Chinese Bishops on the one hand, and the governmental authorities on the other, the difficulties may be overcome and thus a fruitful understanding may be reached that will prove beneficial to the Catholic community and to social cohesion."
In Beijing, a vibrant congregation celebrated the appointment of their new bishop and his communion with the Vatican. The BBC reports that hundreds gathered in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, the home of the newly-elected bishop.
The appointment of Bishop Li Shan comes after a September 8th ordination of Father Paul Xiao Zejiang as coadjutor archbishop of Guiyang (Kweyang), which was also approved by the Holy See.