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China plans further illicit ordinations

Top lay official calls for 'mechanism for talks to solve key issues' with Vatican

Liu Yuanlong, vice-chairman and secretary-general of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association Liu Yuanlong, vice-chairman and secretary-general of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • China
  • June 3, 2011
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Despite controversy over an upcoming bishop ordination in Wuhan, further illicit ordinations are expected in China, ucanews.com has learned.

In light of the Wuhan controversy, a leader of the government-sanctioned Church authority said today he hoped China and the Vatican would establish a mechanism for talks to solve key issues between the two parties.

“Episcopal ordination should be a joyful event and a milestone of Church development, but now it makes us perplexed and sad,” said Liu Yuanlong, vice-chairman and secretary-general of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) in Beijing.

“Before the next case turns up, we hope China and the Vatican could further their talks to solve the problem. Time is limited and the key is held in the Vatican’s hand,” said Liu, a layman.

In his view, a normal and unimpeded mechanism for talks must be built up, otherwise the selection of Chinese bishops will always create chaos.

Sichuan province will ordain three new bishops, probably this month, one of which, the bishop candidate of Leshan diocese, does not have a papal mandate.

If an ordination results in chaos within the Church and conflict between the Church and the government, it will exert negative influence on Church development and even the social image of the Church, “which we do not wish to see,” noted Liu.

"Our aim is to spread the Gospel. We hope the selection and ordination of bishops would be a boost rather than an obstacle to this process.”

The ordination in Wuhan (Hankou) diocese is scheduled for June 9 at St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

Father Joseph Shen Guo’an was elected the bishop candidate in 2008. “We can hardly understand why the Holy See refused to recognize him for such a long time,” questioned Liu.

Father Shen, who is currently on retreat, said it would not be a convenient time for an interview.

According to Liu, Father Shen has prepared to “take up his cross” since being elected in late 2008. But since he has not received papal approval, he has felt perplexed and pained. “We feel sorry for him. I hope the Holy See could understand his situation and recognize him.”

However, a Church observer speaking on condition of anonymity said he believed that by pushing through an illicit ordination the government is not ready to recognize and respect the local religious community.

He added that the pope's letter in 2007 has stated very clearly that the appointments of bishops is the supreme authority of the pope. "We look forward for dialogue between China and the Vatican but this does not mean the Holy See can give up its principles."

He added that the pope's letter in 2007 stated very clearly that the appointments of bishops is the supreme authority of the pope. "We look forward to dialogue between China and the Vatican but this does not mean the Holy See can give up its principles."

Episcopal ordination is strictly a Church matter. It is not like a soccer match that all people will leave after the event ends. It creates a bishop who will begin leading his diocese and giving his flock pastoral care, he said.

Related reports
Another illicit China ordination planned
Observer warns against bishop elections
China bishop candidates await approval
Vatican condemns illicit ordination in China

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