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China postpones illicit bishop ordination

Candidate says he 'was informed' about the cancellation but did not know the reason

Father Joseph Shen Guo’an of Wuhan Father Joseph Shen Guo’an of Wuhan
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • China
  • June 7, 2011
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The ordination for the bishop in Wuhan (Hankou) diocese has been postponed.

The ordination, without papal mandate, was originally scheduled for Thursday.

Father Joseph Shen Guo’an, the episcopal candidate, said today that he “was informed” about the cancellation but did not know the reason for it being postponed.

He said he does not know when it will be rescheduled either.

The news of the postponement began to spread on Friday. Bishops in the neighboring provinces confirmed that government officials informed them that afternoon but did not specify the reason.

Despite the postponement, a Church-in-China observer pointed out that this does not imply that “self-ordination” of the government-sanctioned “open” Church has come to an end.

Another observer, however, sees the postponement as a positive sign for both China and the Vatican.

“It is a good thing to handle this case in a prudent manner to avoid violating Church rules,” said Anthony Lam Sui-ki, senior researcher at Hong Kong diocese’s Holy Spirit Study Centre.

The China Church should wait for the Holy See’s comprehensive consultation to find a suitable candidate, he said.

Commenting on the phenomenon that some mainland priests are eager to become bishops, Lam said, “We will trust the conventional wisdom of the Church that these priests are unsuitable to become bishops.”

“The Holy See will choose priests who are humble and tolerant because these virtues mean they are willing to be committed to the Church, not to their personal interests,” he said.

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