11/30/2016, 15.03

Chengdu, excommunicated bishop, defended by police, took part in Episcopal ordination of Msgr. Joseph Tang Yuange

Wang Xiang

A banner - then taken away by police - condemned the presence of Msgr. Lei Shiyin, the excommunicated bishop. A sister tried to stop him before he entered the church, but the bishop was defended by police. The ceremony took place in the Ping'an Qiao church (Bridge of Peace). A demonstration of "who controls the Church in China".

Chengdu (AsiaNews) - An excommunicated bishop, Msgr. Lei  Shiyin of Leshan (Sichuan), aided by the police, attended the episcopal ordination of Msgr. Joseph Tang Yuange as bishop of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan (central China). The faithful have demonstrated their disapproval in many ways.

The ceremony was presided over by Msgr. Fang Xingyao of Linyi (Shandong); the other two co-ordaining bishops were Mgr. Luo Xuegang from Yibin and Msgr. He Zeqing of Wanzhou.

Three other three bishops also took part: Msgr. Chen Gongao of Nanchong; Msgr. Xiao Zejiang Guizhou and Msgr. Lei Shiyin of Leshan. All these bishops are recognized by the Chinese government. And all have been approved by the Holy See, with the exception of Msgr. Lei. Even Msgr. Fang Xingyao, despite being heavily criticized for his views very close to those of the political authorities, is recognized by the Vatican.

Many faithful attempted in various ways to prevent Msgr. Lei’s participation in the ceremony. Sources have told AsiaNews that a nun tried to stop him before he entered the church, but police protected him and he gained access to the Ping'an Qiao church where the ordination took place.

The church itself was surrounded by several security policemen guarding against possible unrest.

Catholics have posted a photo on social media showing a banner (see photo 1) protesting the presence of Lei Shiyin at the ordination. According to AsiaNews sources the banner was exposed for several hours before and after Sunday Mass on the morning of 27 November, but the police then proceeded to remove it.

The banner, is signed by "the faithful of the Catholic church of Ping'an Qiao (Bridge of Peace)" and says: "In compliance with Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law, we strongly oppose Lei Shiyin, who has been automatically excommunicated [latae sententiae], for coming to our church to take part in the concelebration of the liturgy of episcopal ordination”.

Lei Shiyin was ordained without papal mandate in 2011. At present he is the subject of heated debate and even accused of having a mistress and children. Some Catholics fear that he will also be present the ordination of the new bishop of Xichang, in Sichuan to be held on 2 December.

According to some members, the presence of Mgr. Lei, "was commissioned by the government to show the Vatican who commands the Church in China".

Msgr. Tang, 53, was appointed bishop of Chengdu in May 2014. A native of Sichuan, he studied in the regional seminary. Ordained a priest in April 1991, he has always served in the diocese of Chengdu.

The Church of Chengdu has 20 priests, nine nuns and a seminarian, serving a community of about 100 thousand Catholics.

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