Approval of bishops “a priority”

A total of 11 dioceses are awaiting approval of their elected spiritual leaders amid efforts by Chinese Catholics to fill a vacuum of bishops in almost half of the Chinese dioceses, a leading bishop said.

Bishop John Fang Xingyao, chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), said that 44 out of 97 Catholic dioceses on the Chinese mainland currently do not have a bishop, which has hindered the spreading of the Gospel for the estimated 6 million believers in China.

“The election of bishops and their consecration are the top priorities. We encourage the 44 dioceses to elect their spiritual leaders if the situation permits,” he told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

Fang, 57, bishop of Linyi diocese in East China’s Shandong province, was elected chairman of the CCPA at the 8th National Congress of Chinese Catholics in December.

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