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Ousted priest to attend ordination

Fr Paul Lei Shiyin's presence at Vatican-approved event raises questions

The century-old St Mary's Church, where Fr Peter Luo Xuegang of Yibin diocese is to be ordained this week The century-old St Mary's Church, where Fr Peter Luo Xuegang of Yibin diocese is to be ordained this week
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • China
  • November 28, 2011
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Fr Paul Lei Shiyin has acknowledged that he will attend the forthcoming episcopal ordination of a bishop in Yibin, despite being excommunicated by the Holy See for his ordination earlier this year without papal mandate.

Fr Lei, who was illicitly ordained as bishop of Leshan diocese in July and subsequently excommunicated, said today that he had received an invitation to attend the ordination of Fr Peter Luo Xuegang of Yibin diocese.

“There should be more understanding and support between sister Churches,” Fr Lei said when asked if his presence at the ceremony as an excommunicant, would be embarrassing for the China Church.

“We are doing in a rational manner what we think is beneficial for the Church’s development. Our Church is very mature and is not, as the outside world says, … being manipulated.”

He added that he did not know if he would also serve as a co-consecrator for the event.

Fr Luo is to be ordained as coadjutor bishop on November 30 at St Mary’s Church – not the cathedral, as previous reported by ucanews – during a ceremony presided over by Bishop John Chen Shizhong of Yibin.

The confirmation by Fr Lei has sparked discussion on blogs and in chat rooms in and outside China.

A reader of the Chinese language CathNews China website posted an anonymous comment suggesting that Fr Lei’s presence at the ceremony was a calculated reaction by Beijing over his excommunication by Rome.

Another reader, however, said Fr Lei’s presence would not cause concern, as the consecrator and the new bishop are both recognized by the Vatican.

A Vatican document explaining the application of canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law states that an excommunicated person should abstain from celebrating sacraments or risk committing “a morally illicit and therefore sacrilegious act.”

A Church observer outside China who asked not to be named said Fr Lei should not attend the ordination.

If the Chinese government wants to restart dialogue with the Vatican, it should show sincerity; that is, real action, the observer said.

Some Mainland Catholics have also questioned Fr Luo’s fidelity to Rome.

Fr Luo was among 160 other leaders of the Catholic Patriotic Association who participated in a formation program in Beijing last month, during which he gave a speech in support of self-election and self-ordination, said a source in the China Church who asked not to be named.

Fr Luo, the source said, sounded patriotic during his speech, but speculated that the speech was likely given in exchange for his ordination, which has been pending for nearly two years since his election in January 2010.

Fr Luo could not be reached for comment today.

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