Chengde (AsiaNews) - Fr Joseph Guo Jincai was ordained bishop of Chengde (Hebei) today without a mandate from the pope. The ordination took place in the church of Pingquan (Chengde) in the presence of eight official legitimate bishops, in other words, in communion with the Holy See.
Despite objection from the Holy See prior to the ordination, (v. 18/11/2010 Holy See against an illicit Episcopal ordination and violence against bishops), the event continued as scheduled from 9 am to 10.40 am, and attended by also more than a dozen priests and 500 people, including government officials. A commemoration card of Guo’s ordination was distributed to participants after the Mass. (See photo)
In China, there had been no illicit ordinations since 2006, when in the space of a few days Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming and Liu Xinhong of Anhui were ordained. Even then, the Vatican issued a strong protest (05/04/2006 Holy See: illicit ordinations in China are a "serious violation of religious freedom"). The number of bishops who participated in bishop Ma’s ordination was one more than those present today .
Bishop Fang Jianping of Tangshan officiated the ordination of Chengde. Other participants, seized by the government in recent days, were bishops Pei Junmin of Liaoning, Li Lianggui of Cangzhou and Feng Xinmao of Hengshui, as well as bishops Li Shan of Beijing, Meng Qinglu of Hohhot, Zhao Fengchang of Liaocheng and Coadjutor bishop Francesco An Shuxin of Baoding.
In March, the Vatican had given indications to the bishops in communion with the Pope not to participate in acts (such as assemblies or ordinations of bishops) that are in contradiction with communion with the pope.
The participation of Mgr. An Shuxin creates more difficulties for the Vatican and the Church in China. Last year, Mgr. An decided to emerge from the underground Church and be welcomed into the Church officially recognized by the government. His choice generated much controversy and division in the church of Baoding.
Local Catholic sources told AsiaNews that security forces were deployed around the church where the ordination took place, while several plainclothes policemen controlled everywhere. The local Catholics are saddened by the ordination and wondering if from now on they can receive the sacraments from a bishop not in communion with the Pope. Catholics in other dioceses are angry for what the government has done against the Church, embarrassing their bishops and the Vatican. Several of them are hoping that the Holy See will not hasten steps to establish diplomatic relations with China.