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Catholic opposition forced China to halt illicit ordination

June 10, 2011

China’s plans to ordain a new bishop without permission from the Holy See were thwarted by the concerted opposition of the Catholic laity, and the resistance of the priest who was chosen for episcopal office, according to Sandro Magister of L’Espresso.

The Italian journalist reports that strong public statements by Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the secretary of the Congregation for Evangelization, helped to stiffen the resolve of Chinese Catholics, and frustrate the designs of the Catholic Patriotic Association. Father Shen Guoan, who was chosen by the Patriotic Association, strongly resisted ordination, Magister reports. Archbishop Hon said that China’s bishops must continue to resist pressure from the government-backed association. The bishops who bow to that pressure, he said, “are are opportunists who accept the compromise and provide other reasons for it: they say that they are doing it for the good of the Church, for the urgency of evangelization, in order to receive aid from the state . . . But these benefits are false.”

Archbishop Hon also charged that some Catholic theologians in America and Europe are providing encouragement for the Patriotic Association, by promoting the idea that bishops should be appointed by the local Church rather than the Holy See. “And so there are persons in America and Europe who are pushing the Chinese bishops to behave this way,” he said.


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