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Hong Kong cardinal decries illicit Chinese ordinations

July 16, 2012

Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong has said that Chinese authorities must stop ordaining new bishops without approval from Rome, and engage in open negotiations with the Holy See, to resolve the crisis within the Church in China.

Cardinal Tong has monitored developments in the Church on mainland China for decades, since his appointment in 1980 to lead the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong, an institution that helps provide the Vatican with reliable information about the Chinese Church. Although less outspoken than his predecessor in Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, Cardinal Tong has also been critical of Beijing’s policies regarding religious freedom.

The younger Chinese cardinal mentioned reports that some bishops who participated in the illicit ordination ceremonies have received monetary rewards. “It seems to me that this amounts to cases of corruption,” he said mildly.

The Vatican has warned bishops that they face excommunication if they participate in the ordination of a bishop without a papal mandate. That punishment is waived if the bishops acted under compulsion. But Cardinal Tong’s report raises another possibility: that some bishops may join the ceremonies in hope of material gain.


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