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Excommunication for illicit Harbin bishop

Statement discourages further 'gestures' by China that could threaten future dialogue

Excommunication for illicit Harbin bishop
The Vatican today announced the excommunication of illicitly ordained Fr Yue Fusheng of Harbin
Alessandro Speciale, Vatican City
Vatican City

July 10, 2012

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The Holy See announced in a statement today the automatic excommunication of Father Joseph Yue Fusheng, illicitly ordained bishop of Harbin on Friday, while a Vatican spokesman urged Chinese authorities to show more clearly their intention to maintain open dialogue with Rome. Fr Yue has “automatically incurred the sanctions laid down by canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law,” the statement said, adding that “on several occasions he had been asked not to accept episcopal ordination without the pontifical mandate.” The statement said as well the bishops who took part in the ordination “have exposed themselves to the sanctions laid down by the law of the Church” and “must give an account to the Holy See of their participation in that religious ceremony.” The statement follows a heated exchange last week between Rome and Beijing in which the Holy See warned the fate of the Catholic Church in China would be imperiled by further illicit ordinations. Chinese authorities quickly dismissed the warning as “outrageous” and expressed their intention to continue self-election and self-ordination, and that outside interference threatened the healthy development of the Church in China. Speaking to reporters today, Fr Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican Press Office, characterized the current state of relations with China as “not wholly conducive to constructive and serene dialogue.” Fr Lombardi said the Vatican was sensitive to distinguishing the political and religious dimensions of the issue, a point on which there appeared to be a “difference of interpretation.” He added that episcopal ordinations “solely pertain to the religious authority of the Church.” Today’s statement further noted that the Vatican trusted in “the concrete willingness of the Government Authorities of China to dialogue with the Holy See” and discouraged any future actions that would jeopardize relations. Fr Lombardi emphasized this point, saying: “If gestures that go against dialogue continue, the government’s desire will not be apparent.” Meanwhile, the Vatican described the ordination of Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin of Shanghai with papal mandate as “encouraging and is to be welcomed,” while also noting that the presence of illicitly ordained clergy at the ceremony “was inappropriate” and against “lawful episcopal ordination.” Bishop Ma was ordained on Saturday, but local Church sources say that a group of unidentified persons took him away shortly after the ceremony, during which he announced he would step down as vice chair of the local government-sanctioned Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) and as standing member in the national CPA. Bishop Ma has since been prevented from assuming his official duties. Vatican sources told today that any further comment on Bishop Ma’s whereabouts or status would only put him at greater risk. Related reports New Shanghai bishop to leave CPA posts Fr Yue illicitly ordained in Harbin Vatican statement ‘outrageous’: govt
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