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Cardinal says illicit ordinations must end

Emphasizes need for continued dialogue to reach mutually beneficial solution

Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • China
  • July 13, 2012
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A Hong Kong cardinal has criticized the Chinese government’s involvement in ordinations, saying they are neither political nor economic matters, after officials reportedly launched an investigation into the Vatican-approved ordination of Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin last week.

Bishop Ma announced at the event that he would quit his posts at the state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA). Chinese officials reportedly have kept Bishop Ma from his episcopal ministry in response to his announcement.

“Dialogue between China and the Vatican is a must. It is very urgent now to resolve the dramatic case of Bishop Ma Daqin,” Cardinal John Tong Hon said. “Only with dialogue will a ‘win-win’ result eventually be achieved.”

Cardinal Tong has headed the Hong Kong diocese’s Holy Spirit Study Centre since it was founded in 1980. The center does research on the life of the Church in China.

The Chinese government needs to respect human rights and religion for the sake of justice, human dignity and the welfare of the people. This is the only way of achieving social harmony and a good international image, he said.

“I appreciated Bishop Ma’s courage,” Cardinal Tong told ucanews.com in his first remarks on the events.

His ordination has brought the faithful of the “official” and “unregistered” Catholic communities closer together, which is positive for the China Church, he said.

Also last week, Father Joseph Yue Fusheng, vice-chairperson of the (CCPA), was ordained bishop of Harbin without papal mandate.

“Illicit bishops have become isolated as Catholics are staying away from them. There is no point in proceeding with illicit ordinations,” Cardinal Tong said.

“We also heard that in Chinese ordinations some participating bishops were rewarded with money and other goods. It seems to me that this amounts to cases of corruption.”

This is the second time in a week that two Hong Kong cardinals expressed their concern over the situation of the China Church.

The Hong Kong diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission, joined by Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired bishop of Hong Kong, demonstrated in front of the central government’s Liaison Office on Wednesday demanding freedom of movement for Bishop Ma and other clergy.

The commission is mobilizing Catholics to recite the Rosary in front of the Liaison Office and a Mass to pray for religious freedom in China on Monday.

Meanwhile, seven priests and two nuns in Bishop Ma’s Shanghai diocese have been summoned by municipal government officials, Church sources said today.

“They each face long interrogations, up to eight hours a day,” said a source. “They cannot eat and rest well. We worry about their mental and physical health.”

In one of these priests’ parishes, several times more Catholics than usual attended today's morning Mass.

“After the Mass, many parishioners stayed in the church courtyard,” one said. “But we could not meet our priest as someone else was already waiting for him. We could only say a silent prayer.”

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