ASIA/CHINA - Bishop Yang Yongqiang transferred from the diocese of Zhaocun to Hangzhou by appointment of Pope Francis

Saturday, 22 June 2024 local churches   bishops  

Hangzhou (Agenzia Fides) - Joseph Yang Yongquiang is the new Bishop of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, by appointment of Pope Francis. This is reported in the bulletin of the Vatican Press Office published today, Saturday, June 22, 2024. “In the context of the dialogue regarding the application of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China”, reads the text released by the Vatican Press Office, “on 12 June 2024, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Joseph Yang Yongqiang as bishop of Hangzhou, Chinese Province of Zhejiang, transferring him from the see of Zhoucun, Chinese Province of Shandong”. The new Bishop of Hangzhou will make his entrance into his new episcopal See with a solemn Eucharistic liturgy at Hanghzhou Cathedral scheduled for Thursday, June 27.

Joseph Yang Yongqiang was born April 11, 1970, in Boxing (Shandong), into a Catholic family.

In 1987 he entered the Holy Spirit Seminary in Jinan. He conducted his philosophical and theological studies at that seminary and at Sheshan Seminary in Shanghai. On June 15, 1995, he received priestly ordination. After ministering as a pastor, he was sent to further his formation at the National Seminary in Beijing. He later served as a lecturer at the Holy Spirit Seminary. Appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Zhoucun, he was consecrated on Nov. 15, 2010, and on Feb. 8, 2013, he succeeded Bishop Ma Xuesheng as the head of that diocese. On June 12, 2024, Pope Francis appointed him Bishop of Hangzhou.

In October 2023, together with the other Bishop of Mainland China Anthony Yao Shen of the Diocese of Jining/Wumeng, Joseph Yang Yongqiang took part in the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme "For a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission." In an interview given to Fides News Agency (see Fides 16/11/2023) Bishop Yang is said to have been "honored" to have been invited to participate in the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in Rome, and thus to have had "the opportunity to share my journey of faith while listening to that of others.”
In that same interview, the bishop recounted the blossoming of his priestly vocation this way, "I come from a family of traditional Catholic family” Bishop Yang said, “and the faith of the elder in the family has a big influence on me, especially my grandmother. I remember she asked us to read the prayers every night and we were also required to kowtow in front of the statues or the pictures of God, Virgin Mary, St. Joseph or other Saints before going to sleep. Then she herself would continue to recite the prayers until late at night”.

Once, Bishop Yang added, continuing his account, "My mother went on a pilgrimage to Mount of Our Lady in Huzhuang. When she came back, she told us that she saw some young seminarians sitting and reading in Jinan West Gate Church, quiet and self-disciplined. She talked about it as her eyes lighted up. Her words were etched into my heart, and a seed of priesthood was planted."

In the interview, the new Bishop of Huangzhou had also quoted a passage from "De Imitatione Christi" that had inspired him on his journey: ""Don't Gossip: you must avoid boisterous crowds, for immersing yourself with secular surroundings, even with pure intentions, can't be harmless".

Bishop Yang, in that interview, also recounted a personal fact related to his ordination to the priesthood: "My father introduced me to Father Li Chonglun, who was in charge of the diocese affairs, and said, "Today I hand this kid to the Church. I won’t rest in peace until he is ordained." I never thought what he said would become a prophesy. The day after my ordination from Bishop Jin Luxian, I received a phone call that my father had just passed away. I burst into tears. His words were like what Simeon said in Gospel of Luke which is also cited in the Night Prayers. Therefore, every time I recite the Prayers, it’s like I am praying for my father”.

Thirty thousand Catholics live in the diocese of Hanghzou. The episcopal see was vacant. 

On June 25, 2000, priest Matthew Cao Xiangde had received illegitimate episcopal ordination (since he did not have the papal mandate) as Bishop of Hangzhou. Later, on June 8, 2008, the Holy See had legitimized him but without entrusting him with jurisdiction. Bishop Cao had died on July 9, 2021, at age 92, after a long illness. (Fides News Agency 6/22/2024)