Thursday, November 30, 2006

Oops, They Did it Again!

Kyodo News is reporting that another illicit Chinese ordination has occured.

China's state-sanctioned Catholic organization said Thursday a priest in the eastern province of Jiangsu has been ordained as bishop coadjutor, marking China's third bishop ordination this year without Vatican approval.

Father Wang Renlei's 2.5-hour ordination ceremony was attended by about 1,000 parishioners, including more than 20 priests from the local Xuzhou diocese and other provinces, vice chairman of the government-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association Liu Bainian told Kyodo News.

Vicar general Wang, 36, was voted to be the bishop coadjutor to assist Bishop Qian Yurong, 94, in an uncontested election in October.

"Qian, who remains as the diocese bishop, has no immediate plan to retire," Liu said.

China ordained Ma Yinglin of Yunnan Province in April and Liu Xinhong of Anhui Province in May without Vatican approval, prompting a statement from the Vatican that hinted at automatic excommunication of the two bishops.

Liu Bainian said that as China does not have diplomatic ties with the Vatican, there is no appropriate channel for China to communicate with it about bishop ordination.

Diplomatic ties between China and the Vatican were severed shortly after the Communist Party took power in 1949.

Talks have been held on and off on restoring ties but two major hurdles remain in the way, namely China's demands that the Vatican cut ties with Taiwan and that the Church stay out of China's internal affairs, which it interprets to include ordination of bishops.

The latest ordination has dealt a "fatal blow" to dialogue between the Holy See and China, a Vatican source was quoted as saying by AsiaNews, a Rome-based website.

The website, frequently reporting on Catholic Church-related matters in Asian countries, reported Wednesday that two Vatican-approved bishops in China's northern province of Hebei were forced to take part in Wang's ordination.

It cited sources as saying that an unspecified number of other bishops expected to take part in the ceremony were kept in isolation and subjected to physical and psychological pressures.

"It is impossible, church matters are managed by the diocese and there is no government interference," Liu said in dismissing the report. "None of the priests and bishops who attended the ceremony had been forced against their will."

Catholics in China are divided into two groups, one worshipping at churches controlled by the Catholic Patriotic Association -- an organization set up by the authorities to keep a grip on the religion -- while others loyal to the Vatican go to underground churches.

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