Msgr Thomas Chen Tianhao is the new bishop of Qingdao
Officially he would be the first bishop ordained according to the provisional agreement between China and the Vatican. The new bishop is considered very obedient to the government’s religious policy. He is a member of the Standing Committee of the National Patriotic Association.
by Wang Zhicheng
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Msgr Thomas Chen Tianhao, 58, is the new bishop of Qingdao (Shandong). His ordination took place this morning in the city cathedral, dedicated to St. Michael. Msgr. Fan Xingyao of Linyi, president of the National Chinese Patriotic Association presided over the ordination ceremony. The other concelebrating bishops were: Msgr. Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun, vice president of the Council of Chinese bishops, and Msgr. Zhang Xianwang of Jinan, vice-president of the “liang hui”, the “double organization”, which includes the Council of Bishops and the Patriotic Association.
Some faithful have pointed out that the large presence of high-ranking members of the Patriotic Association is due to the fact that the newly ordained himself was president of the Patriotic Association of Qingdao, and since 2010 he has been a member of the Standing Committee of the National Patriotic Association.
According to some experts, this would be the first episcopal ordination to take place following the modalities prepared in the Provisional Agreement between China and the Holy See. But the consecration formula would have remained the old one, in which the mandate of the Council of Bishops is mentioned, but nothing is said about the Pope and the Holy See.
The new bishop is known as a loyal state official when it comes to religious policy. He succeeds Msgr. Giuseppe Li Mingshu,who died in June 2018.
Due to the limitations caused by the pandemic, the celebration was not open to everyone. But there were 21 priests and over 200 nuns and faithful.
Bishop Chen Tianhao was born in Pingdu (Shandong) in 1962. He studied in the Holy Spirit seminary in Shandong and in December 1989 was ordained a priest. According to official data, he was elected and appointed bishop of Qingdao on November 19, 2019.