China: 'underground' bishop formally cedes role to government-appointed prelate (AsiaNews) Bishop Vincent Guo Xijin has officially handed over control of the Mindong diocese to Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu, with a Vatican spokesman, Msgr. Claudio Celli, witnessing the event. Bishop Guo Xijin has never been recognized by Beijing; Bishop Zhan Silu was appointed by the government without Vatican authorization—thus incurring the penalty of excommunication. Pope Francis lifted that penalty as part of a recent agreement with the Chinese regime.
Msgr. Celli announced that another “underground” bishop, Bishop Peter Zhuang Jianjian of Shantou, will surrender his place to a government-appointed prelate,
Bishop Giuseppe Huang Bingzhang, in a similar transfer of authority.
Ukrainian Orthodox leaders to meet, plan autocephalous future (AsiaNews) Leaders of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will meet in Kiev on Saturday, December 15, in a “unification council” proposed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, to plan the future of a self-governing Church. The Moscow patriarchate has declared the meeting illicit, and it is not clear whether any of the bishops affiliated with Moscow will participate. The Orthodox prelates in attendance will choose a patriarch, to be confirmed by Constantinople as leader of the (theoretically) unified Orthodox churches in Ukraine. The meeting will be held at St. Sophia cathedral—a building that was seized by the Soviet regime and is still owned by the government, but has been proposed as a cathedral for the new patriarch.
Ecumenical Patriarch raps Moscow's stand on Ukrainian Orthodox unity (AsiaNews) Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople voiced his regret at the Moscow’ patriarchate’s opposition to the recognition of an autocephalous (self-governing) Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and asserted his own role as worldwide leader of Orthodoxy, as he met on December 14 with visitors from Russia. Patriarch Bartholomew said that it is “unacceptable” for Russian prelates to impose their views on the situation in Ukraine, adding that “I am also the spiritual father of the Russians.”
Pope condemns Strasbourg terrorist attack, expresses compassion for victims (Vatican News) The papal telegram, written in French, was addressed to Strasbourg’s archbishop. On December 11, a terrorist, shouting “Allahu akbar” (Allah is great), killed three and injured 13 during an attack on the Christmas market in front of Strasbourg Cathedral (photograph). Strasbourg is a city of 275,000 in eastern France and headquarters of the European Parliament, which Pope Francis visited in 2014.
USCCB grants $4M to Church in Eastern Europe (USCCB) A subcommittee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has granted $4 million to 143 projects in the formerly Communist nations of Central and Eastern Europe. The support, funded by a collection that is taken up in many dioceses on Ash Wednesday, “helps rebuild and restore the faith where people continue to feel the repercussions of decades of Communism and oppression,” said Archbishop Paul Etienne of Anchorage.