The Vatican officially released the names of the Chinese bishops, both representing China’s official and unofficial Catholic churches, who are expected by Pope Benedict to attend a gathering of the world’s bishops on Oct. 2-23 in Rome.
Among the synod, comprising of 36 members, four of them come from continental China, while the other bishops named were from Hong Kong and Taiwan, according the invitational list released on yesterday on Sept. 8.
At least one of the Bishops from the Mainland is a member, Bishop Wei Jingyi, is a member of an unofficial church in the northeastern city of Qiqihar. Catholic monitoring groups reported that Wei had served two two-year terms at labor camps, and also detention by Chinese authorities last year.
Also on the list, is Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of the state-controlled church in Shanghai who recently consecrated an auxiliary bishop approved by both Rome and Beijing.
Despite ties cut off between China and the Vatican since 1951, after the rise of the Communist Party, Pope Benedict has been eagerly reaching out to unite China’s estimated 12 million Catholics under Rome's wing.
China expert an founder of a Vatican-affiliated news agency AsiaNews, Rev. Bernardo Cervellera, said that Benedict's selections were significant and explained that "for the Holy See, there is only one church" in China. Beijing, however, remains passive regarding the invitations.
According to Rev. Cervellera, Pope John Paul II invited two Chinese bishops to an Asian synod from the state-controlled church, but they were not allowed to attend. "I think the government could make this a big opportunity to show its progress on religious liberty, by allowing the bishops to travel to Rome,” Rev. Cervellera said to AP.
Besides Wei and Jin, the two other Chinese bishops named to the synod were: Bishop Anthony Li Duan of Xian and Bishop Lucas Li Jingfeng of Fengxiang.