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Chinese police seize Catholic bishop as illicit ordination approaches

Catholic World News - July 11, 2011

Four Chinese Catholic bishops have been seized by police and are being held incommunicado, apparently so that they can be forced to participate in the ordination of a new bishop arranged by the Catholic Patriotic Association.

Bishops Liang Jiansen of Jiangmen, Liao Hongqing of Meizhou, and Joseph Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou—all of them recognized by the Vatican—are being held by authorities. Chinese Catholics loyal to the Holy See expect that the bishops will be brought by police to the scheduled ordination of a new bishop in Shantou on July 14.

Officials of the Patriotic Association have announced that they will proceed with episcopal ordinations, such as the one in Shantou, without Vatican approval. The Vatican has countered with a reminder that anyone who participates in an episcopal ordination without approval from the Holy See is subject to the penalty of excommunication. While noting that his penalty would not apply to those who participate under compulsion, the Vatican has urged Chinese Catholics to resist pressure, emphasizing the the illicit ordinations harm the unity of the Church.

In the Liaoning diocese, priests have surrounded Bishop Paul Pei Junmin to protect him from being seized by authorities. With police ringing the cathedral, the priests have announced that they will remain there to protect the bishop.

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