Vatican: Whole Church Should Value China Bishops' Fidelity

Pope Deplores How Church in China Is Being Treated

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 17, 2011 ( The Vatican is reiterating that Canon Law stipulates excommunication for bishops ordained without papal approval, but is also calling the whole Church to value the fidelity of those bishops who resist participation in these ordinations.

A Vatican statement Saturday responded to last Thursday’s episcopal ordination of Reverend Joseph Huang Bingzhang in the Diocese of Shantou, China.

It stated that the priest incurred the sanction of Canon 1382, latae sententiae excommunication.

“Consequently, the Holy See does not recognize him as bishop of the Diocese of Shantou, and he lacks authority to govern the Catholic community of the diocese,” the Vatican declared.

The statement added that the priest “had been informed some time ago that he could not be approved by the Holy See as an episcopal candidate, inasmuch as the Diocese of Shantou already has a legitimate bishop; Reverend Huang had been asked on numerous occasions not to accept episcopal ordination.”

The episcopal ordination of Reverend Joseph Huang is the latest step from the Chinese government to assert its control over the Church in the nation. The Vatican has clearly decried the situation over the last several months, most recently following an illicit ordination on June 29.

Meritorious before God

At the same time, the Holy See’s Saturday statement addressed reports that various bishops resisted government pressure to take part in the illicit ordination.

These bishops “expressed their unwillingness to take part in an illicit ordination and also offered various forms of resistance, yet were reportedly obliged to take part in the ordination,” the statement reported.

“With regard to this resistance, it should be noted that it is meritorious before God and calls for appreciation on the part of the whole Church,” the Vatican affirmed. “Equal appreciation is also due to those priests, consecrated persons and members of the faithful who have defended their pastors, accompanying them by their prayers at this difficult time and sharing in their deep suffering.”

Chinese rights

The Vatican went on to reaffirm “the right of Chinese Catholics to be able to act freely, following their consciences and remaining faithful to the Successor of Peter and in communion with the universal Church.”

It reported that the Holy Father “deplores the manner in which the Church in China is being treated and hopes that the present difficulties can be overcome as soon as possible.”

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Related articles:

Commentary on June 29 ordination:

July 4 Vatican Statement:

A report on the June clarification from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts:

Benedict XVI’s appeal in May for the Church in China:

A report on the national church’s meeting last December:

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