Bishop candidate Father Joseph Yue Fusheng is expected to be ordained on Friday without a papal mandate, according to local Church sources.
News of the ordination began to spread in recent days, though local priests say they have no information about which bishops might be involved, the sources added.
Reports of the ordination follow strong words issued by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China yesterday.
The response, made in an article published on the groups’ website, was provoked by remarks made by Archbishop Savio Hon, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples, in which he described illicit ordinations in China as “sacrilegious.”
The author of the article, identified with the penname Peter, described Archbishop Hon’s remarks as “not conducive to the solidarity of the China Church.”
The article further noted that in an interview two weeks ago Archbishop Hon described Fr Yue as someone who “cares for the Church and fidelity to the Lord."
It added: “Then why does the Holy See not approve him?”
Many Catholics have criticized the article after it began circulating on the internet, with some suggesting it intentionally aimed at insulting Rome by the use of the penname Peter.
Amid ongoing tensions between Beijing and Rome, further trouble has been brewing for local Catholics, sources say.
A young priest ordained last year and who has resisted illicit ordinations has gone missing and is suspected to have been “disappeared” by authorities, sources said.
They add that another priest reportedly left Heilongjiang to join another diocese recently, compelling some lay faithful to turn to the “underground” Church to attend Mass.
The Vatican-approved Bishop Paul Pei Junmin of Shenyang (Liaoning) was called to a meeting in Beijing last week and has not been heard from since, the sources said.
Meanwhile, the ordination of Coadjutor Bishop-elect Thaddeus Ma Daqin in Shanghai is set to take place on July 7. Sources say that Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu of Mindong, illicitly ordained in 2000, will participate.
Repeated attempts by ucanews.com to reach Fr Yue and Fr Ma in recent weeks have been unsuccessful.
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