Bishop Paolo Ma Cunguo of Shouzhou now recognized by government
In little more than a month, he is the third underground bishop to be made official. The installation ceremony presided over by the head of the Patriotic Association and the bishop of Taiyuan. Msgr. Ma swars oath without reference to joining an “independent Church”.
Rome (AsiaNews) – Msgr. Paolo Ma Cunguo, hitherto only recognised as a bishop by the Holy See for the diocese of Shouzhou (North Shanxi), has now been officialy recognised by the Chinese government. The official installation ceremony was held on July 9th. The installation – with which the bishop, already belonging to the so-called underground Church, became part of the official Church – took place with the reading of the approval of his episcopate by the Patriotic Association and the Council of Official Bishops (an organism not recognized by the Holy See as underground bishops are not included). After reading the act of approval, Msgr. Ma Cunguo also read a very special oath (see below). This part of the ceremony was presided over by the head of the Shanxi Patriotic Association, the deputy director of the provincial administrative committee and by Bishop Meng Ningyou of the diocese of Taiyuan. Mass followed presided by Msgr. Ma Cunguo.
Bishop Ma becomes the third unofficial bishop to be recognized by the government in just over a month after the official installation of Msgr. Pietro Li Huiyuan of Fengxiang and on June 9 that of Msgr. Pietro Lin Jiashan of Fuzhou.
The diocese of Shouzhou has over 10 thousand faithful, a dozen priests and nuns. Bishop Ma, ordained in 2004 (only 33 years old) by his predecessor Msgr. Bonaventura Luo Juan, is known as a person who has long wanted government recognition.