2nd Chinese bishop excommunicated, Vatican announces. 'This is war.'
July 18, 2011
The Vatican has officially announced the excommunication of the Chinese bishop ordained on July 14 in defiance of the Holy See.
This was the 2nd public announcement of excommunication of a Chinese bishop within the past month, as the escalating conflict between Rome and Beijing prompted one prominent prelate to say: “This is war.”
A formal statement released by the Vatican on July 16 cited canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law, which stipulates that anyone involved in consecrating a bishop without approval from the Holy See incurs the penalty of excommunication.
Father Joseph Huang Bingzhang had been warned before the illicit ordination, the Vatican revealed. The statement added that “the Holy See does not recognize him as bishop of the diocese of Shantou, and he lacks authority to govern the Catholic community of the diocese.”
In the same statement, the Vatican complained that some bishops had been unwilling to participate in the illicit ordination ceremony, “and also offered various forms of resistance, yet were reportedly obliged to take part in the ordination.” The statement said that Pope Benedict XVI “deplores the manner in which the Church in China is being treated.”
The Vatican praised Chinese Catholics who have resisted the pressure from the government-backed Patriotic Association to accept bishops who are not in communion with Rome. An AsiaNews report cited examples of that resistance:
- Bishop Paul Pei Junmin of Liaoning was selected by Chinese authorities to be the principal celebrant at the July 14 ordination ceremony. But the bishop refused to participate, and the priests of his diocese surrounded him, inside his cathedral, to prevent authorities from arresting him and transporting him to Shantou for the ceremony.
- In Guangdong, 4 bishops were taken into custody and accompanied by police to the ceremony. But when they finally freed to return to their own dioceses, they had the Vatican’s July 16 statement read to all the faithful.
- In Harbin, staunch resistance by the faithful has forced the Patriotic Association to postpone another scheduled ordination.
A CNN report on the Vatican’s statement said that the Vatican has “stepped up its battle with the Chinese Catholic Church.” But the battle is within the Chinese Church—between a faction that takes orders from the government and another faction that insists on independence from Beijing and loyalty to the Holy See. Cardinal Joseph Zen remarked: “You can start a new church, but don’t call it a Catholic church.”
It was Cardinal Zen, the former bishop of Hong Kong, who referred to the growing conflict as a “war.”
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