Pope Asks Chinese Underground Bishop to Step Down to Make Way for Excommunicated Bishop
Three months after the Vatican has signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops with China, bishop Vincent Guo Xijin was asked to leave his post in order for one of the seven formerly excommunicated bishops whom Pope Francis has re-admitted to communion, Vincenzo Zhan Silu, to take over.
According to Asia News, the news broke on December 12 by some diocesan priests. Bishop Guo gathered his priests that afternoon to communicate the new situation in which he now becomes auxiliary bishop. The prelate had just returned from a trip to Beijing where he met with bishop Zhan and with bishop Claudio Maria Celli who represented the Vatican delegation.
Many priests and local Catholics are saddened by this news. Traditionally, when an official bishop recognized by the government reconciled with the Holy See, and in the same diocese there existed an underground bishop, he remained as ordinary and the other, just reconciled, became the auxiliary. In this case the opposite occurred.
This ‘sacrifice’ was instituted by the Pope. Reportedly, Pope Francis expressed his great appreciation for bishop Guo and asked him to personally continue to take care of pastoral care for the underground parishes, while also finding a certain integration with bishop Zhan.
Some priests believe that with this passage, the Vatican has consigned the Church into the hands of the government.