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Priests who resisted illicit ordination in hot water

HONG KONG (UCAN) : Seven priests who resisted supporting the illicit ordination on July 6 of Father Joseph Yue Fusheng as the bishop of Harbin in China are now in hot water with government authorities for their no show at the ceremony or the critical words they uttered prior to the event, local Church sources report.

People say that the seven priests who are being disciplined by the government have been told they are required to submit a letter  of repentance to Father Yue and concelebrate Mass with him within three months, or they may be expel them from the diocese.

However, one of the seven is known to have already concelebrated with the illicit bishop at the consecration of a new church in Bei’an City on July 16.

They say the priests who objected to the ordination because Father Yue did not have a papal mandate to become a bishop are being forced to leave their parishes in order to repent for their wrongdoing.

Several of them are currently either staying with parishioners, have returned to their hometowns or fled to other provinces.

UCA News reported on July 26 that before the ordination took place, religious affairs officials put out a warning that disobedient priests would face dire consequences.

In recent weeks, they ordered priests judged to have unsatisfactory performances to take three months leave for self-examination.

The Holy See has declared that Father Yue has incurred automatic excommunication and he has been forbidden to celebrate any sacraments or act as a bishop, but he continues to celebrate Mass wearing the insignia of a bishop.

Heilongjiang province’s official Church community has 37 priests.

People say that since the ordination some priests are avoiding concelebrating Mass with him, while the number of people attending Mass at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Harbin City has dropped remarkably.

Some of them have turned to churches managed by the unofficial Catholic community.

Meanwhile, Bishop Joseph Wei Jingyi, from Qiqihar, who is recognised by Rome but not the government, says he expects political pressure on the unofficial Church community in Heilongjiang to increase.

“In past decades, the unregistered community in Hebei province has been a major target of suppression. After Bishop Paul Meng Qinglu, from Hohhot, was ordained in 2010, the unregistered community in Inner Mongolia suffered a strong blow. We can anticipate Heilongjiang would be the next after Father Yue’s ordination,” he said.

Although local Catholics clearly know Church principles, they are worried religious life will be greatly affected.

They are also disappointed that Father Yue seems to be taking no action to protect his priests from the aggressive tactics of officials.

Father Yue could not be reached for comment.

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