In an exceptionally rare move, the Vatican has protested the Chinese Communist Party’s appointment of a bishop to a diocese not recognized by Rome.
On Saturday, The Holy See Press Office published a statement that noted with “surprise and regret” the news that Bp. John Peng Weizhao was installed on Nov. 24 as auxiliary bishop of Jiangxi — a diocese created by the CCP without Vatican approval.
The installation ceremony was held in Nanchang at a service led by the local Bp. John Baptist Li ShuGuang, who is vice president of the Chinese Catholic Bishops’ Conference — a body not recognized by Rome. Around 200 congregants participated in the service.
In 2014, Pope Francis secretly appointed Weizhao as bishop of Yujiang. China reacted by incarcerating Weizhao for six months. The prelate’s ministry was severely restricted by authorities even after Weizhao was released in November 2014.
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