The diocese replaces the former Apostolic Prefecture of Yiduxian, which was created on June 16, 1931, by Pope Pius XI, who entrusted its administration to Franciscan missionaries from France.
Bishop Sun was consecrated in Qingzhou on Jan. 29 by Bishop John Fang Xingyao of Linyi, the president of the Chinese Patriotic Association, who presided over the ordination along with four other bishops from Shandong Province.
More than 300 people attended the consecration Mass, including 44 priests, according to the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
Sun, 53, is originally from Weifang. He studied at the Sheshan Seminary from 1989 to 1994. He was ordained a priest at the age of 25 in December 1995 in the Beijing Cathedral. He spent a year in Ireland for formation between 2007 and 2008 before returning to his ministry in Weifang.
Vatican-China deal on the appointment of bishops
Sun is the second Chinese bishop consecrated in the mainland in the past five days. The Vatican announced on Jan. 25 that Pope Francis had appointed Father Thaddeus Wang Yuesheng as the bishop of Zhengzhou, an announcement that also came on the day of his episcopal consecration.
The Vatican signed a provisional agreement with Beijing in 2018 on the appointment of bishops, which is up for renewal in October.
According to the Vatican, both appointments announced in the past week took place within the framework of the provisional agreement — a noteworthy step after bishops were installed in violation of the Vatican-China deal in April 2023 in Shanghai and in November 2022 in the so-called Diocese of Jiangxi, a diocese that is not recognized by the Vatican.
The creation of the Weifang Diocese and appointment of the bishop took place about two weeks after a bishop was unilaterally installed by the Chinese government in Shanghai in April and three months before Pope Francis accepted the Shanghai bishop’s appointment in July.