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Chinese bishop's ordination pits Vatican against Patriotic Association

Catholic World News - April 18, 2012

The ordination of a new Chinese bishop, scheduled for April 19, will call attention once again to the ongoing struggle between the Holy See and the Beijing government.

Father Chen Gongao, who will be ordained in Sichuan, has the approval of the Holy See. He had been nominated in 2010, but delayed his episcopal consecration because he did not want to cause confusion by allowing the participation of bishops who have been excommunicated by the Vatican.

Nevertheless, Chinese Catholics are concerned that one such bishop, the head of the Catholic Patriotic Association, plans to join in the ceremony. Bishop Peter Fang Jianping will preside at the ordination. Although he once participated in illicit ordinations, he later asked for and received forgiveness from the Vatican, and is now recognized by the Holy See.

However another Chinese prelate, Bishop Paul Lei Shiyin, the leader of the Patriotic Association, has indicated that he plans to attend the ordination as well. Bishop Lei has defied Rome not only by serving in the government-backed group, which the Vatican has condemned as divisive, but also by ordaining other bishops without the approval of the Holy See. He has thus incurred the penalty of excommunication, and the Vatican noted that his participation in an earlier episcopal ordination “aggravated its situation.”

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  • Posted by: Defender - Apr. 18, 2012 6:39 PM ET USA

    An in-road here, a nod there, the Vatican gives a little here and there, while the CPA gives up nothing. It's plain to see the usual way these things play out and the Vatican loses. For some 60 years, the Church in China has been persecuted - the old ways remain, just as the new to intimidate and bully. There are many who seek to ignore the faithful by seeing what the government wants them to see. Pius XII and his apostolic letter and two encylicals remain apropos today as they were then.

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