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China may again ordain bishops in defiance of Vatican

Catholic World News - May 17, 2011

The head of the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association has announced that Chinese officials plan to proceed with the appointment of new bishops, without approval from the Vatican.

Anthony Liu Bainian said that the “official” Catholic Church in China will install bishops by “self-election and self-ordination.” He insisted that the Vatican should “not interfere” with this process.

The Chinese official’s statement is the latest—and one of the strongest—in a long-running conflict between the Patriotic Association and the Vatican over the control of episcopal appointments. The Vatican has repeatedly emphasized that the Patriotic Association cannot exercise control over the Church, and that the organization’s purposes are inimical to Catholic teaching and tradition. Nevertheless, Chinese government officials continue to put heavy pressure on Catholic priests to comply with the directives of the Patriotic Association.

Last month a special Vatican commission on the Church in China issued a reminder that the ordinary penalty for participating in the ordination of a bishop without a proper mandate is automatic excommunication. Noting that some Chinese bishops had apparently been forced to participate in illicit ordinations earlier this year, the commission said that “the external pressures and constrictions could mean that excommunication is not automatically incurred.” However, the Vatican statement added that “there remains a grave wound, perpetrated on the ecclesial body.”

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  • Posted by: Defender - May. 17, 2011 9:23 PM ET USA

    It was only a matter of time that this gambit was played. As the Vatican has been playing wishful thinking, the so-called Patriotic Church has been waiting to make an impact that will supposedly put the Church on the ropes. It could get worse - the People's Republic has demonstrated numerous times that it can and will impose its will as it pleases.

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