CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 September 2018

Print Version    Email to Friend
Questions arise about new bishop in China

HONG KONG (SE): The presence of an illicitly ordained bishop, Father Lei Shinyin, as one of the three ordaining bishops at the episcopal ordination of Father Peter Luo Xuegang in St. Mary’s church in Yibin, Sichuan, on November 30, has prompted a concerted reaction from Chinese Catholics on the Internet.

A comment was posted on the CathNewsChina website describing it as a calculated move from Beijing in retaliation for talk of excommunication from Rome for two illicitly ordained bishops this year.

However, another commented that it was not a big deal, as the principal ordaining bishop and the one being ordained are both recognised by Rome. 

But Vatican spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi, explained that according to canon 1382, Father Lei’s presence is problematic, as he has been forbidden to administer any sacraments. The canon calls it a “morally illicit and therefore sacrilegious act.”

Another said that Father Lei should have stayed away, adding that if the Chinese government really wanted to restart dialogue with the Vatican it should show sincerity with real action. Others questioned the fidelity of Father Luo to Rome, implying that they believe that he should have refused to have gone through with the ceremony.

UCA News reports that Father Lou is one of the 160 Church leaders who participated in a formation programme run by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in Beijing in October, during which he gave a speech defending the self-elect and self-ordain policy of the association.

The Hong Kong-based news agency said that one commentator speculated that he possibly gave the speech in return for his ordination to the episcopate, which has been pending since January last year.

UCA News reports that there were more government officials at the rehearsal on November 29 than Church people and questions what sort of comfort the Catholic people of China can take from the ordination, as Father Luo has been chairperson of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in Yibin since 2009.

It also points to statements from Wang Zuo’an, the director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, as inflaming the situation.

“There were excommunications in the past and there is excommunication now. It makes no sense to use it, because we have been electing and ordaining bishops on our own all along,” Wang was quoted as saying.

“Of course, if (the Holy See) is to resolve China-Vatican relations, you have to solve all these problems for us,” he continued.

Either way, there is still a lot of work to be done.

More from this section