Tough Vatican response to Chinese bishop's ordination  

Posted by Heisan

Vatican, Dec. 4, 2006 ( - In a toughly worded statement released on December 2, the Holy See condemned the latest unauthorized ordination of a new Catholic bishop in China, and charged that officials in Beijing are “tormenting the consciences” of Catholics with their continued efforts to divide the Church.

The Vatican statement, released shortly after Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) returned from a 4-day visit to Turkey, said that the Holy Father had “learned with great sadness” about the ordination of Father John Wang Renlei as an auxiliary bishop of Xuzhou. The episcopal ordination took place without approval from the Holy See: a violation of canon law that ordinarily carries the penalty of excommunication.

Noting that the November 30 ceremony was only the latest in a series of unauthorized episcopal ordaintions, the Vatican charged Chinese bishops and priests have been “compelled” to take part in the illicit ceremonies. The ordination also causes spiritual anguish for lay Catholics, the statement observed, since they “find themselves obliged to accept a pastor whom they know is not in full hierarchical communion with the head of the College of Bishops or with other bishops around the world.”

Despite these difficulties, the Vatican statement observed, most Chinese Catholics “have maintained a profound communion of faith and of life with Peter’s successor.” Confirming reports from informed sources in China, the Vatican added that “almost the entirey of bishops” in the country claim allegiance to the Holy See.

With their continued efforts to break the ties of the faithful to Rome, the Vatican statement observed, Chinese officials are demonstrating “a vision of the Church that does not correspond to Catholic doctrine and undermines the fundamental principles of her hierarchical structure.”

While noting the “severe penalties” set forth in canon law for unauthorized ordinations, the statement stopped short of saying that the Chinese bishops who participated in the November 30 had been excommunicated. Pointing once again to the government’s coercive actions-- which reportedly included the outright kidnapping of two bishops-- the Vatican observed that canonical penalties would apply “assuming the act was carried out in conditions of true freedom.”

The December 2 statement from the Holy See was in line with an public reaction to earlier episcopal ordinations, carried out by officials of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in May of this year. At that time, the Vatican had said that the ordinations involved a “grave wound to the unity of the Church” and a “grave violation of religious freedom” insofar as clerics were compelled to participate.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 4, 2006 at Monday, December 04, 2006 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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