The history of the Catholic hierarchy in China begins in the year 1307 with the appointment of Giovanni de Montecorvino as Bishop of Khanbaliq. Missionaries from Europe and other areas, along with Chinese clergy, governed the gradually developing dioceses, apostolic vicariates, apostolic administrations, apostolic prefectures and missions in China. Many of them died as martyrs, spent decades in prison and labour camps, or were or remain impeded from the exercise of their duties. Chinese clergy still govern today.
This work contains the research of various historians who independently collected and investigated data of bishops and priests in China over decades.
The main research focus was based on the data of the bishops’ consecrations. This data includes the dates and places of consecration as well as the names of the principal consecrators and provides a general overview of the apostolic succession in China. Additional biographical information completes each bishop’s data.
It is important to note that in this work, I also included priests who were either named bishops but did not receive consecration or who were named ordinaries without the episcopal dignity (e.g., apostolic prefects). A distinction between Roman nominations and nominations of bishops of the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) was specifically not made.
The work on China by Father Isidore Perraud, C.S.Sp. (1907-1992, France) forms the basis of this book. Over many years he collected data and facts as well as numerous photos, paintings and engravings of bishops in China. His research (~ 1950-91) includes data from all Chinese bishops since 1307 and also includes the appointed bishops of the CPA. Biographic data which Father Perraud assembled is mostly without any references. However his data still functions as a basis and was substituted by footnotes only when the author used additional references or used other data.
My two close friends, Dr. Manfred Kierein (Austria) and Mr Charles Bransom (USA), internationally accredited specialists for underground churches and consecration lines, and I began our research on biographies of Chinese bishops and secret consecrations years ago, at a time when the public did not even know about the existence of underground bishops in China. With our work we updated Father Perraud’s research.
Despite extensive research over many years, some of the data could not be determined exactly. I used the spelling of Chinese family names and villages according to the source. This is due to the fact that those involved in this work and website do not have any knowledge of Chinese.
Beginning in 1958, there was difficulty determining if certain bishops were auxiliary bishops, coadjutors or administrators. As many of the exact dates of nominations are also missing, I decided to start the chronologies of the diocesan lists using the year of consecration as the beginning of a bishop’s ministry.
For the list of the dioceses, the new nomenclature of the Annuario Pontificio was used. Dioceses and their names according to the CPA are shown as cross-references.
In reference to priests who are members of religious orders, at times the dates of their joining the orders differ because some sources use the date of entry into the order as a postulant or novice, while others use the date of final vows.
My personal thanks goes to all people who assisted with the research of data and with corrections. In addition to Manfred Kierein and Charles Bransom, I would like to mention especially Mr. Martin Wolters (Hamminkeln/Germany), Father Angelo Lazzarotto P.I.M.E. and Father Giambattista Politi, P.I.M.E., who answered all our questions with expertise and patience.
I would also like to thank all of my Chinese friends who provided me information and details, often in situations which proved to be very difficult for them. I would like to extend my appreciation and thanks to all of them.
I also would like to ask all readers of this website to correct or complete the published data under specification of the reference if need be. Because all of the people involved do not have any Chinese knowledge, family names and statements of place would certainly need to be corrected. As the here published photos do not have any captions, it would be interesting to know with whom the copyright lies. But due to the fact that the website has a scientific interest only, the author claims the right for publication of data and photos.
Andreas Brender, M.A.