After five bishops and coadjutor bishop were appointed in 2006, China has now installed five additional bishops in 2007.
On September 8 Xiao Zejiang was ordained coadjutor bishop of Guizhou diocese.
On September 21 42-year-old Li Shan succeeded Fu Tieshan, who died in April, as the bishop of Beijing diocese.
On November 30 Lv Shouwang was consecrated as the 8th bishop of Yichang diocese, succeeding Zhang Mingqian.
Four days later, on December 4, Gan Junqiu was installed as the bishop of Guangzhou diocese in the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Guangzhou.
On December 21 Li Jing was ordained coadjutor bishop of the Ningxia diocese in Yinchuan Catholic Church.
Over the past two years fifteen bishops have died, including Dong Guangqing, bishop of Wuhan diocese and Fu Tieshan, bishop of Beijing diocese. Dong Guangqing was the first Catholic bishop appointed by the Chinese government; Fu Tieshan was chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) and acting chairman of the Bishops' Conference of the Chinese Catholic Church (BCCCC).
An open letter issued by the CPCA and the BCCCC in 2006 disclosed that Chinese Catholics have now surpassed 5 million, as compared with the 2.7 million believers over 50 years ago.
In an interview, Liu Bonian, vice-chairman of the CPCA, said, "China has ordained more than 170 bishops since 1958, indicating the sound development of the Chinese Catholicism."
He further explained that China has 97 dioceses, of which 62 have bishops with some dioceses having two bishops each. Forty dioceses do not have bishops.
Since China restored its National Seminary for the Chinese Catholic Church in 1982, it has appointed more than 1,800 priests, laying a solid foundation for the ordinance of bishops. In order to become a bishop, a priest has to meet the following four requirements:
He must believe in God and be well educated in theology; he should love his nation and abide by the country's laws and be able to make contributions to the country together with other Catholics in his diocese; he must be 35 or over; he must have been acting as a priest for at least 5 years.
Liu Bonian told the reporter that now is the prime time for Catholicism to develop in China. Religious people have become an important force in building the harmonious society.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Ming'ai, December 30, 2007)