Xijin Guo, former underground Catholic Church bishop, resigns

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Sample scene in a Chinese Catholic church. 
(Photo: Creative Commons)

(Mindong Diocese, Fujian—Oct.13, 2020) On Oct. 4, during evening mass at Luojiang Church, Xijin Guo, auxiliary bishop of Mindong Diocese (Funing Diocese), announced his resignation to attending church members, stating he had presented his decision to the Holy See in September. Pope Francis, however, has not officially accepted Bishop Guo’s resignation.

Included in Xijin Guo's resignation letter: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

May the grace of God fill your hearts!

...Now I will say "I'm sorry" to you. I will take a little bit of your time tonight to share with you some things that have been posted...and my point of views; these things may be related to your standpoints or related to you indirectly: it is about the situation of the Chinese church or our diocese. This may be a sign of the new era, a new chapter of the church; at such a splendid historical moment, we need someone who has great talents, great wisdom, great virtues, and who is knowledgeable about current affairs to keep up with the times or keep pace with the times or even reach ahead of the times to lead....The cowherd boy born in the poor village of Xiyin who is completely useless; facing this rapidly changing era, ...confused and disconnected. 

However, thank God for giving me a bit of self-knowledge, knowing that I have been left behind for a long time, and I cannot keep up with the times. I do not want to hold back the times and become obstacles to the progress. Therefore, I withdrew and resigned, and the decision to resign was submitted to the Holy See last month. 

...Finally, no matter what happens under any circumstances, do not forget God, do not ignore God’s commandments, do not let the integrity of faith be damaged, and do not neglect the great things of saving souls.

Now I am leaving my job, and I ask you to forgive me for my weakness and incompetence, especially the offense I caused during my employment. May the loving God be with you every day until the end of this world!

Your incompetent cowherd, Xijin Guo 

Introduction of Bishop Xijin Guo:
  • Born December 20, 1958, in Xiyin Village, Xitan Town, Fu'an City. Baptized since childhood, holy name: WeiZengJue.
  • In 1975, he received the Eucharist under Father Rencheng Xu;
  • In 1978, he received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the hands of Father Ershi Ye in Xiyin;
  • On January 1, 1980, he entered the diocese of Wenzao Theological and Philosophy Academy;
  • On January 26, 1984, he received the priesthood from Bishop Xinsheng Li from Tianshui, Gansu province. After being ordained, he and Father Ruci Zhu jointly took charge of the work of the seminary and taught seminars;
  • In 1985, he began to assist the bishop in handling diocese affairs.
  • In 1988, he served as the Dean of the Wenzao Theological and Philosophy Academy;
  • He was arrested for the first time in 1990 and released in 1992. After his release, he began to compile the rules of the “Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Charity” and was fully responsible for the preparations for the establishment of the congregation;
  • In 1993, he served concurrently as secretary of the Bishops' Conference of Mainland China, assisting Secretary-General Jingyi Wei in his work. He was arrested again soon and released in 1994;
  • In the autumn of 1994, he led the seminarians of Funing and Wenzhou diocese to study at Shaanxi Normal University;
  • In 1996, he was arrested for the third time and released a few months later;
  • In 1999, the bishops and priests of Wenzhou were all arrested, and the followers had no priest. Father Xijin Guo also served as the deputy of Wenzhou diocese for a short time;
  • In September 2005, he was elected Secretary-General of Funing Diocese and continued to serve as Dean and Senator of the Seminary;
  • On December 28, 2008, Bishop Shoucheng Huang was ordained as Assistant Bishop of Funing Diocese and was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI;
  • On July 30, 2016, Bishop Shoucheng Huang passed away. According to ecclesiastical law, Assistant Xijin Guo was automatically promoted to the Bishop of Funing Diocese.
  • After the signing of the interim agreement, Vice Chairman Silu Zhan became the legitimate bishop, and Bishop Guo was demoted to the auxiliary bishop.

Approximately12 million Catholics who live in China belong to the official patriotic church and the underground church. The "official" clergy relate closely to the Chinese Communist regime, while those underground proclaim allegiance to the Vatican. Xijin Guo served as a leader in the underground Catholic church.

The Holy See media "Asia News" reported that the Chinese government issued an eviction order to Xijin Guo in mid-January this year, forcing him to leave the bishop's palace. To exert pressure on other priests not wanting to join the government's patriotic church, the government "cut off water and electricity" to the building to force them to move out. 

Recently, the US Secretary of State Pompeo publicly called on the Holy See not to renew a two-year bishop appointment agreement with Beijing, stating that the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP's) violations of religious beliefs are becoming more and more serious. If the Vatican renews this agreement, Pompeo said, it will "endanger its own moral authority."

In a Catholic media "Crux" interview on October 6, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Foreign Minister of the Holy See, said: “I can understand these criticisms.” He perceives the signing of this agreement with Beijing as a last resort for the Vatican; that if it does not allow Beijing to participate in the appointment of the bishop, Beijing will exclude the Holy See.

Gallagher confirmed that the Vatican has requested Beijing to renew its contract for two years. but Beijing has not yet responded. When the term of the agreement was about to expire, Xijin Guo, the key figure of the year, the assistant bishop of Fujian Mindong Diocese, suddenly announced his resignation. If Beijing has not made a statement by the end of this month, the agreement will be automatically invalidated.

(Zhensai Gao, China Aid Association)

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