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Shantou ordains new priests

Illicit bishop may have reached consensus to enable ordinations by another prelate

The ordination of five new priests from Haimen and Shantou dioceses The ordination of five new priests from Haimen and Shantou dioceses
  • China
  • November 2, 2011
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The bishop of Haimen diocese last week ordained five new priests, including three from Shantou diocese, where Father Joseph Huang Bingzhang was illicitly consecrated as a bishop three months ago.

Fr Huang was absent from the priestly ordinations at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Nantong city, eastern Jiangsu province, on October 27.

The ceremony was presided over by Vatican-approved Bishops Joseph Shen Bin of Haimen and Joseph Li Shan of Beijing. The three new priests of Shantou are Frs Chen Zifa, Wang Feijing and Zeng Qingyao. The other two belong to Haimen diocese.

The Holy See declared latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication on Fr Huang two days after his July 14 ordination without an apostolic mandate. The statement said the Holy See does not recognize the illicitly ordained prelate and he has no authority to govern the Catholic community of the diocese.

According to the Code of Canon Law, an excommunicated person is prohibited to celebrate Mass, administer any sacrament, or exercise ecclesiastical ministerial functions or acts of government.

A Church source said on condition of anonymity he believed Fr Huang might have reached a consensus with the new priests, letting their ordinations be handled in a rational and proper way.

“He probably has considered the circumstances of the young priests and would like to ease their psychological pressure by following the practice of the former bishop to avoid further scandal,” the source said.

Bishop John Cai Tiyuan of Shantou, the former bishop, was also not recognized by the Holy See. He did not ordain any of the 20 diocesan priests between becoming a bishop in 1981 and his death in 1997.

However, the Church source was saddened to see some priests and laypeople who opposed to Fr Huang were making verbal attacks without basing on facts.

“They claimed that anybody who comes into contact with Fr Huang is also excommunicated, and some even threatened not to allow the family members of the new priests to go to church,” he said.

“People don’t need to exclude the innocent new priests just because they oppose Fr Huang,” he said, adding that he hopes the priests can be strong in faith and brave to face the challenges ahead.

Another Catholic source sympathetic to Fr Huang said if the latter is “ambitious to exercise his episcopal ministry, he would ordain the new priests by himself. But he didn’t do so. This shows that he is working for the interest of the Church.”

Related reports

Rome excommunicates Shantou bishop

Bishops attend unapproved ordination

Bishop helps priests, nuns feel at home

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