Bishop for Guangzhou

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2007, 12:00am

Guangzhou will soon get a new Catholic bishop endorsed by both Beijing and the Holy See, but the exact date of his ordination is apparently still under heated discussion.

The ordination of Father Joseph Gan Junqiu is likely to be on December 3, a source said yesterday.

Father Francis Tan Tiande, of Sacred Heart Cathedral, said the date was decided by Father Gan himself. 'With the Pope having approved his promotion, he has the right to decide the ordination date,' Father Tan said.

However, Father Gan said yesterday that he had not made a final decision. 'I still need to discuss it with other relevant organisations,' he said. 'I would like to invite bishops from other dioceses to my ordination.'

Guangzhou Diocese has not had a bishop for years. The Vatican approved Father Gan's promotion 10 months ago, but the China Catholic Bishops' College - which is controlled by the state - has delayed giving its formal endorsement for almost a year.

Speculation has been rife among Catholic church sources that the extended delay could be due to a failure to reach an agreement between Father Gan, described as a priest faithful to the Pope, and the state-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association over who would conduct the ordination Mass.

The Vatican was concerned that the association had sent two 'illicit' bishops appointed without Vatican approval to participate in the recent ordinations of bishops Paul Xiao Zejiang of Guizhou and Joseph Li Shan of Beijing in September, even though bishops Xiao and Li had received papal endorsements.