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Student protest halts Chinese seminary graduation ceremony

Graduate priests refuse to concelebrate Mass with bishops who broke Church law

Student protest halts Chinese seminary graduation ceremony

The National Seminary in Beijing canceled graduation ceremonies after graduates refused to concelebrate Mass with an illicitly ordained bishop and one who participated in an illicit ordination. reporter, Beijing and Hong Kong

July 17, 2014

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The National Seminary in Beijing canceled its graduation ceremony in late June after graduates refused to concelebrate Mass with bishops complicit in illicit ordinations.

Seminary students initially protested the possible presence at the ceremony of Bishop Joseph Ma Yingling, the seminary's rector, who was to confer graduation certificates and celebrate a graduation Mass. Bishop Ma, who was named rector in 2010, was ordained a bishop illicitly without papal approval.

The seminary later announced it would replace Bishop Ma with Vatican-approved Bishop John Fang Xingyao, the seminary's board director. However, students still objected as Bishop Fang had presided several times in previous illicit Episcopal ordinations. 

A seminary source told that since Bishop Ma became rector, the seminary had only presented graduation certificates, but had not celebrated Mass. The news of the Mass apparently caught students by surprise; they then refused to concelebrate Mass with the illicitly ordained bishop.

"Bishop Ma also has no intention to celebrate a Mass. It was the vice-rector who wants to please his superior," the source said.

The two bishops did not attend the June 29 graduation ceremonies and graduates were not conferred with certificates before they left for their respective dioceses, according to the seminary source.

Rumors then began to spread that an advanced course for priests and nuns will be suspended when the new school year begins in September. The course is a requirement to receive a bachelor's degree that is recognized by China's Education Ministry.

Father Li Shuxing, executive vice-rector of the seminary, confirmed to that the ceremony was canceled.

He said certificates were "not dispatched because Bishop Ma had not come over to sign them".

"We will send them out soon since they are signed now," he said.

He did not confirm, however, the possible suspension of the advanced course.

"The board has not met yet, so it is still unclear what would happen," he said.


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