By Debora Donnini
“I can confirm that H.E. Mgr. Antonio Yao Shun, who has been consecrated Bishop of Jining/Wulanchabu, Inner Mongolia (China), received the Papal Mandate, as was also stated by the Ordaining Bishop during the ceremony yesterday, 26th August 2019."
This is how the director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, responded to questions from journalists. “The Episcopal Ordination of H.E. Mgr. Antonio Yao is the first to take place in the framework of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China signed in Beijing on 22nd September 2018”, noted Bruni.
Antonio Yao Shun was ordained bishop of the diocese of Jining, in the northern province of Inner Mongolia where about 70,000 Catholics live, by Paolo Meng Qinglu of the diocese of Hohhot. Other co-consecrating bishops were Mattia Du Jiang from the diocese of Bameng, Li Jing from the diocese of Ningxia and Paolo Meng Ningyou from the diocese of Taiyuan. At present all the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the Pope. Hundreds of priests and religious from the surrounding areas were present at the ceremony.
During the ceremony, "the mandate of Pope Francis was mentioned," said Bishop Paolo Meng Qinglu. This is reported by the Global Times in an article on ordination in which various positive comments are reported. In the Chinese newspaper, the bishop also said that the ceremony took place in a "solemn, harmonious and orderly" atmosphere.
"Misericordes sicut Pater" (Merciful like the Father) is the episcopal motto chosen by Bishop Yao Shun. The same words as that of the Jubilee of Mercy requested by Pope Francis. The formation of Yao Shun, who is now 54 years old, took place in the National Seminary in Beijing. After that he specialized in liturgy abroad, in the United States and in the Philippines: he studied at St. John's University in New York and the Paul VI Institute of Liturgy in Malaybalay. After returning to China, he continued to teach Liturgy at the National Seminary in Beijing, where he was also spiritual director. He held a position of responsibility at the National Liturgical Committee. Subsequently, in 2010, he returned to the diocese of Jining to assist his predecessor Giovanni Liu Shigong, who died at the age of 90 in 2017.
In a unanimous decision he was named bishop of the diocese of Jining last April by the representatives of the diocese in a meeting led by Bishop Meng Qinglu. Among the representatives, the predominant component was made up of priests flanked by some lay and religious representatives. After careful evaluation, Yao Shun received the apostolic mandate and nomination by the Pope.