Perspectives Weekly
What is the Future of China-Vatican Relations?
Friday, January 12, 2018 - We have heard so many stories about the Church in China, about persecution and about an underground church, yet for Bishop Ignatius Wang, the retired Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco, it’s not so simple and it’s not so hopeless. Deacon Pedro speaks with him about his vocation, the challenges being a Chinese Bishop in the United States and his thoughts about the Church in China.

Biography of Bishop Ignatius Chung Wang

Bishop Ignatius Chung Wang, Aux Bishop of San Francisco (retired) Ignatius Chung Wang (pronounced Wong) was born in Beijing, China in 1934, the fifth of eight children in a family that had been Christian for twelve generations. He attended Catholic schools and began his studies to become a priest at the Regional Seminary in Hong Kong. He was ordained a priest in 1959 in Hong Kong at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. After his ordination, Fr. Wang was unable to serve in China because of the Communist government. He was sent to Rome where he completed a doctorate in Canon Law in 1962. Unable to return to China, he took an assignment on the Caribbean Island of Grenada, where he served as a parish priest and Vicar General of the Diocese of St. George.

In 1974, Fr. Wang moved to San Francisco to be near his widowed sister, who had small children and was in poor health. When his sister died of cancer, Bishop Wang became guardian of her children.

Bishop Wang began his service in the Archdiocese of San Francisco 1974. He was a Parochial Vicar in several parishes and in 1981 was named the first archdiocesan Director of the Office of Chinese Catholic Ministry. He initiated a ritual Blessing of Ancestors at the annual archdiocesan Chinese New Year’s Mass. In 1982, he was appointed pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in San Francisco, making Fr. Wang the first Chinese Catholic pastor in San Francisco.

Pope John Paul II named him a Prelate of Honor of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor in 1989. He also has served in the archdiocesan Tribunal and as Coordinator of the Chinese Apostolate.

On Dec. 13, 2002, Pope John Paul II appointed Monsignor Wang to the post of Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Bishop Wang is the first Catholic Bishop of Chinese ancestry and of Asian background to be appointed in the United States.

He served as auxiliary bishop of San Francisco under Archbishop William J. Levada and Archbishop George Niederauer before retiring in 2009.