Fr Paul Pei Junmin will be ordained, described by the Vatican "an excellent candidate". The Patriotic Association is ever more isolated, while the government has kept silent about the Vatican statement condemning the illicit ordinations.
Rome (AsiaNews) Tomorrow at 9am, in the Cathedral of Shenyang (Liaoning, north-east China), there will be another episcopal ordination: Fr Paul Pei Junmin will be consecrated as coadjutor bishop of Shenyang by the ordinary bishop, Mgr Jin Peixian. The very important fact is that this new ordination takes place with the approval of the Holy See. "Fr Pei Junmin received the approval of the Holy Father," a Vatican source told AsiaNews. "And he is an excellent candidate from all points of view." Fr Pei Junmin met Benedict XVI on 3 August 2005. Together with another 22 Chinese priests on a trip to Europe, he managed to attend an audience with the pontiff, who greeted him with "particular affection". Interviewed by AsiaNews on that occasion, Fr Paul had said: "The meeting with the pope was a surprise! None of us would ever have imagined it; we did not even know we would come to Rome. But it was a marvelous thing: the Church of Rome is the mother Church of all churches, including the Chinese one. We wanted to show that the Church in China is united to the Holy See."
The ordination of Fr Pei comes a few days after the illicit ordinations in Kunming and Wuhu that took place without the pope's permission. They have been branded by a Vatican statement as "a grave violation of religious freedom" and a "serious wound to the unity of the Church", incurring "severe canonical sanctions".
A Chinese priest told AsiaNews: "The episcopal appointment of Fr Pei confirms the strong unity between the official Chinese church and the Holy See and reveals more than ever the violence of the Patriotic Association (PA) in seeking to divide the Church and to create obstacles for China-Vatican dialogue."
The Vatican statement issued on 4 May cited "strong pressures and threats" to which the ordaining bishops and ordination candidates in Kunming and Wuhu were submitted to. Among those threatened was the bishop of Shenyang, Mgr Peixian, who tomorrow will preside over the valid ordination in the capital of Liaoning. According to local sources of AsiaNews, Mgr Peixian remained firm and steadfast, refusing to participate in ordinations that were not approved by the Holy See.
Meanwhile, since the Vatican statement condemning the illicit ordinations was issued, AsiaNews has been receiving continuous messages from Chinese priests and bishops, stating their approval for the Vatican stand. Anthony Liu Bainian, the PA deputy chairman, remains the only person defending the decision to go ahead with the ordinations of Kunming and Wuhu. There has been no official reaction from the government so far.
Fr Pei Junmin, 37 years, entered the seminary when he was 16. He was ordained in 1992 and worked for a year in the parish of the cathedral. Then he was sent by his bishop to Philadelphia in the US to study Sacred Scripture. He was among the first group of Chinese priests sent abroad for studies. So far, he has taught Sacred Scripture and he was dean of studies and vice-rector at the major seminary in Shenyang that has 70 vocations. The diocese of Shenyang has 100,000 faithful.
AsiaNews sent Fr Pei a message of congratulations for his ministry: "Dear Fr Pei, we want to express our happiness and joy about your consecration as bishop of the Catholic Church, Our ties to the Rock of Peter are a guarantee of strength and edification. From Italy and the world, we are praying for you. We are honoured to have met you in Rome. We work ever more closely for the mission of the church in China and for unity with the universal Church."
Here: a link with Fr Pei's interview with AsiaNews: Chinese priest: we need help to form priests of the official Church