ICC Note: Lanzhou Bishop Joseph Han Zhihai was publicly installed on Nov 10, 2017 in a ceremony where many of his fellow priests and parishioners were absent due to skepticism of its validity. They were not convinced that the Holy See was pleased to see such installation. Priests who could not accept his installation said bishop Joseph would have to get close to the state-run Chinese Patriotic Association (CPA), an organization designed to control the church in China, in order for such installation to take place. Also, the day after his installation, the bishop took nearly 80 priests and nuns of Lanzhou, Pingliang and Tianshui to visit the former communist revolutionary base in Jinggangshan which is between Jiangxi and Hunan. It is difficult not to link his installation with government’s hands behind it.
11/20/2017 China (UCA News) – An underground bishop has been openly installed in northwest China in a ceremony that some diocesan priests and parishioners avoided attending because they were unsure of its validity.
Bishop Joseph Han Zhihai of Lanzhou in Gansu province was openly installed at the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Nov. 10.
Open church Bishop Yang Xiaoting of Yulin in Shanxi Province presided over the ceremony along with open church Bishop Han Jide of Pingliang of Gansu and open church Father Zhao Jianzhang, Apostolic Administrator of Tianshui.
Bishop Han said via social media that “the Holy See is pleased to see such result.” The message was purportedly sent out for the benefit of his diocesan priests.
However, Father Paul of Lanzhou told ucanews.com that some of Bishop Han’s diocesan priests refused to attend the installation since they were not convinced the message was accurate.
Among 38 priests from Lanzhou Diocese, 12 who did not attend the installation included priests studying abroad, Father Paul said, adding that in total 46 priests, 47 sisters and more than 300 Catholics from Lanzhou, Pingliang and Tianshui attended the ceremony. Government officials from the Religious Affairs Bureau and the United Front Department from Lanzhou likewise attended.
“Some people might have come from the public security authorities as well but they were not in uniform,” Father Paul said.
Father Paul said he believed Bishop Han’s installation is “good for the development of the diocese.”
Not accepting bishop’s installation
A priest, who does not agree with Bishop Han’s installation and did not attend the ceremony, told ucanews.com, that some parishioners he serves also could not accept the bishop’s installation.