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Vatican condemns illegitimate ordinations in China

If reports of China's new self-styled 'bishops' are true, it would constitute 'a grave violation of canonical norms'

Vatican condemns illegitimate ordinations in China

Pope Francis with the Vatican's spokesman Greg Burke during the pope's flight from Rome to Malmo for a two days visit in Sweden, on Oct. 31. Burke has said that the Vatican is concerned about reports of unauthorized ordinations of bishops in the underground church in China. (Photo by AFP)

ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
China

November 9, 2016

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The Holy See has broken its silence on the unauthorized ordinations of bishops in the underground church in China and condemned such ceremonies once again as being illegitimate in the church.

Greg Burke, the spokesman for the Holy See, advised ucanews.com that the Vatican has not authorized any bishop ordinations in China so far this year

On Oct.7 uncanews.com broke the news that Father Paul Dong Guanhua of Zhengding in northern Hebei province installed himself as the bishop of the diocese on Sept. 11 and "had ordained" another priest as "bishop."

The move represents fresh problems for the Vatican, which will imminently begin a fresh round of talks that have now stretched for two years, about regularizing the ordination of bishops so they have papal approval in line with approval of the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

"In recent weeks, there has been a series of reports regarding some episcopal ordinations conferred without papal mandate of priests of the unofficial community of the Catholic Church in continental China," Burke said in a statement on Nov. 7.

He restated that the Vatican has not authorized any ordination in China and these kind of ordinations "would constitute a grave violation of canonical norms."

"It is reiterated that it is not licit to proceed with any episcopal ordination without the necessary papal mandate," he continued.

Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, who is approved by the Vatican but not recognized by the government, announced in a statement on Sept. 13 that Father Dong has incurred automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See according to Canon Law Article 1382 for accepting episcopal consecration without papal approval.

Catholics in China were shocked by Father Dong’s action, which makes the situation of the China Church more complicated. But there is increasing anxiety by underground Catholics about the planned Vatican–Beijing deal designed to mend the fractured nature of the church in China. The fear is that the church will cede too much power to Beijing, which will give away nothing, in a desperate attempt to make the church whole once more in the mainland.

Some Chinese Catholics see Burke's statement, a month after the news broke, as being too late to end the confusion that the self-ordination moves have created.

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