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Hong Kong Church leaders join in urgent plea against illicit ordinations in China

Catholic World News - July 13, 2011

Hong Kong’s Catholic leaders have issued an urgent appeal to Chinese Catholics to pray for unity in the Church, as officials of the Catholic Patriotic Association prepare to ordain a bishop in defiance of the Vatican.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former Bishop of Hong Kong; and his successor, Bishop John Tong, joined in the plea to stop the illicit ordination, scheduled to take place in the Shantou diocese on July 14. They blamed “rogue officials” for creating divisions within the Chinese Catholic community, and urged loyal Catholics to remain united to the Holy See.

Church officials in Hong Kong released 60,000 copies of a newsletter that explains the current conflict between the Holy See and the Patriotic Association. The publication provides Chinese readers with a summary of the letter by Pope Benedict XVI to the Chinese Church, and reports on violations of religious freedom on the mainland, including the imprisonment of priests and the efforts to force bishops to join in illicit ordination ceremonies.

The AsiaNews service reports that 6 Chinese bishops who are recognized by the Holy See have been taken by officials to Shantou in preparation for the ordination ceremony. Vatican officials have protested that the government is forcing some bishops to join in the ordination ceremonies against their will.

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