Fr Leonard E Dollentas
On September 8, 2021, Bishop Francis Cui Qingqi was ordained as the new bishop of Hankou, Wuhan, Hubei, China. The 57-year-old bishop is the sixth bishop to be consecrated in China according to the terms of the provisional agreement which the Holy See signed with the Chinese government in September 2018. This means that Bishop Cui’s appointment is with the approval of both the state and the Church.
Bishop Cui’s appointment as the bishop of the Archdiocese of Hankou, Wuhan was made by Pope Francis on June 23, 2021. Wuhan, the city where the first COVID-19 cases were reported, has been without a bishop for the past 14 years. It was reported that Fr. Cui served as its unofficial leader (without the official appointment from the Church) since 2012. This report was documented in the 2012 report published in the Italian newspaper La Stampa: Fr Cui was appointed by provincial authorities of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to head a five-member “management committee” to oversee the Wuhan diocese.
Fr Bernardo Cervellera, former editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, told CNA in an interview last month: “From what I’ve seen, bishops who have been ordained, nominated, and ordained, they are all president or secretary of the Patriotic Association. So, this means that they are very near to the government.”
The newly ordained bishop is a Franciscan, born in Shanxi province in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1991 at the age of 27. The consecration ceremony took place at St Joseph Cathedral in Wuhan. It was led by Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming, president of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China. Bishops Joseph Shen Bin of Haimen and Bishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing, conference vice presidents, were the concelebrants. Bishop John Baptist Li Suguang from neighboring Jiangxi province and Bishop Peter Ding Lingbin from Shanxi province attended the ceremonies, along with some 30 priests from Hubei province and some 200 nuns and Catholics of Wuhan Diocese.
Wuhan, with now 11 million people, was once an outpost for Catholic missionaries who founded Catholic hospitals in the city, including what is now called Wuhan Central Hospital, where coronavirus whistle-blower Dr Li Wenliang died.
Bishop Cui is the fourth bishop to be consecrated since the Vatican-China agreement deal’s renewal. In July, the Vatican announced the ordination of Anthony Li Hui as the coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Pingliang. (Photo from CBCPNews.)