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Ordaining Chinese bishop, Pope underlines ties to Holy See

February 07, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI renewed his challenge to China to respect religious freedom, as he presided on February 5 at the ordination of five new bishops.

All five of the new bishops consecrated by the Pontiff are Vatican officials. But Bishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the Hong Kong native who now serves as secretary of the Congregation for Evangelization, drew the most widespread attention.

By personally ordaining a Chinese bishop, Pope Benedict was calling attention to the continuing despite between the Holy See and the Beijing regime, which claims the right to name its own Catholic bishops. During the February 5 ceremony, the Pope reiterated the argument that the Vatican has consistently put forward: that only the Holy See has the authority to name new bishops.

Speaking about the essence of a bishop’s duty, the Pope said that each bishop should zealously guard the chain of succession that links him to the original apostles. “The essence of apostolic succession,” the Pope said, “is to maintain our communion with the people who visibly and tangibly met with the Lord.” At the same time, he said, communion among the faithful requires the bishops to maintain close ties with the universal Church under the guidance of the Holy See.

In his homily Pope Benedict challenged the new bishops to be “laborers in the harvest of world history” while also “cooperating in the mission of Jesus Christ.” He urged them to be intrepid in their approach to pastoral problems, showing “the courage to oppose the trends of the moment.” Constancy in teaching is essential, he explained: “Only where there is stability can there also be growth.”

Along with Bishop Hon Tai-Fai, the others consecrated by Pope Benedict were: Bishop Marcello Bartolucci, the secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Bishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta, the secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy; and Bishops Antonio Guido Filipazzi and Bishop Edgar Pena Parra, who were appointed in January to serve as apostolic nuncios.


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