The news that illegitimate Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin ordained six new priests in the diocese of the ancient Dali city spread last week. It seems that warnings from inside and outside China could not wake up the conscience of the persons concerned to maintain unity of the Church. The unlawful canonical act was disguised in a joyous scene under the banner of evangelization but substantially it is swallowing up our Church – the body of Christ. Three of the new priests, who come from ethnic minorities, are the first batch of priests nurtured by the diocese. We understand that their vocations are hard won in such insufficient conditions and treasured by the diocese. But I wonder if they have ever thought that their priests were born in a disgraceful way. This is a regret that they cannot put away for ever. The local Church could not invite another legitimate bishop to replace Bishop Ma because of political pressure. The only reason for the authority is to support the “pseudo bishop.” Dali diocese might regard the ordination as a joyous occasion but the authority is using it as a gun to shoot the Vatican. Even though the diocese has pastoral needs, it is ignorant to consider local interests while disregarding the overall situation of the Church. It is not a secret to Chinese Catholics that a number of leaders in our Church have lost their faith in face of self interest. They do not have the courage to put the development of the Church in God’s hands, but attempt to safeguard their own political status with backing of the authorities under the pretext of evangelization. Thus they have no scruples to their illegitimate identity or excommunication and continue to split the Church. Repeated incidents show there is little hope of their self-awakening. Laypeople who follow these bishops cannot escape the blame of creating more divisions even if they have no bad intentions. If all laypeople hold a responsible attitude to protecting the Church, if they really care for their leaders, they should not echo and follow these illegitimate bishops but refuse to have sacramental communion with them. By then, can these illegitimate bishops still be part of the authority when they have no supporters to wave flags and shout battle cries? It is also perplexing that three foreign priests participated in the priestly ordination. Anthony Lam Sui-ki, senior researcher at Hong Kong diocese’s Holy Spirit Study Centre, made an odd remark after giving some criticisms: “We cannot condemn [the ordination] entirely as it was mixed with joy and illegality; For the sake of pastoral needs, we won’t criticize in a lofty tone, but it doesn’t mean we tolerate.” It would be best for people outside China not to take part recklessly if they are unable to help the situation. Don’t add trouble to the China Church which is already in a disastrous state. God is the ruler of history. Everything is in his hand, including the increasingly insane acts of the Catholic Patriotic Association. He can help us to bear good fruit from evil. Maybe we are now in the darkness before dawn and the light is not far away. Ascribing everything to God is probably the only way forward for the healthy development of the China Church. Jesus Christ told His disciples repeatedly: Do not be afraid. Because He promised He would be with the Church forever and darkness could not overpower Him. Mu Di is a pseudonym of a mainland Chinese priest
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