Holy See condemns illegal Bishop of Shantou, appreciates "resistance" of bishops and faithful
by Bernardo Cervellera
Fr. Joseph Huang Bingzhang is publicly excommunicated. Many times, the Vatican had said he could not become a bishop. Appreciation for bishops, priests and faithful who have resisted participating in the ceremony. Fears of government revenge: a appeal to AsiaNews. The Pope’s sorrow and the right of Catholics to freedom
Vatican (AsiaNews) - The Pope’s sorrow at how "the Church in China is being treated", the excommunication of Fr Joseph Huang Bingzhang, ordained bishop of Shantou (Guangdong) without a mandate and the Holy See's appreciation for all the faithful and the bishops who have " had expressed their unwillingness to take part in an illicit ordination and also offered various forms of resistance" to pressure from the government: they are the highlights of the Holy See statement published today regarding the Episcopal ordination of July 14 last (see 14/07/2011 Eight bishops in communion with the pope forced to take part in illegitimate ordination in Shantou).
In a terse and laconic fashion the excommunication of the ordained bishop is rendered public, because he " had been informed some time ago that he could not be approved by the Holy See as an episcopal candidate. Reverend Huang had been asked on numerous occasions not to accept episcopal ordination".
At the same time it emphasizes and appreciates the "resistance" put up by the bishops and faithful to avoid being dragged to take part in the illicit ordination. The bishops of Guangdong were seized and taken by force (see 11/07/2011 Officials kidnap bishops of Guangdong to force them to take part in illicit Shantou ordination); Mgr. Pei Junmin, designated as chief celebrant, was saved from being “kidnapped” thanks to the perpetual prayer of his priests and faithful protected him (07/08/2011 Liaoning priests rush to defense of bishop to prevent his participation in illegitimate ordination).
The fear of many believers is that the government could lash out against them by putting them in solitary confinement and forcing them to months of brainwashing on the "goodness" of China's policy toward religion. AsiaNews has received an appeal on their part where they ask for our prayers and support.
The declaration of the Holy See once again claims " 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".
Below the full text of the statement:
Holy See Statement on Episcopal Ordination in the Diocese of Shantou
The following clarifications are issued with reference to the episcopal ordination of the Reverend Joseph Huang Bingzhang which took place on Thursday, 14 July 2011:
1) The Reverend Joseph Huang Bingzhang, having been ordained without papal mandate and hence illicitly, has incurred the sanctions laid down by canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law. 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 Reverend Huang Bingzhang 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.
2) From various sources the Holy See had knowledge of the fact that some Bishops, contacted by the civil authorities, had 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.
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. 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.
3) The Holy See reaffirms 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.
The Holy Father, having learned of these events, once again deplores the manner in which the Church in China is being treated and hopes that the present difficulties can be overcome as soon as posssible.
From the Vatican, 16 July 2011