Rome (AsiaNews) Today's illegitimate ordination in Xuzhou was done with "indecent methods, almost unimaginable". It is "astounding because no one could expect such a thing", Card Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop of Hong Kong, told AsiaNews speaking about the illegitimate Episcopal ordination of Fr Wang Renlei.
In order to pull off their deed, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Religious Affairs Bureau abducted two bishops, Mgr Li Liangui of Cangzhou (Xianxian) and Mgr Peter Feng Xinmao, so that they could provide some kind of official legitimacy to the ceremony.
For Cardinal Zen, the decision is astounding because no one would expect such a thing. "It is hard to understand how there can be people who obstinately work for destruction. What happened this time is even more serious than what happened [. . .] at the end of April" which is "punishable with sanctions fixed in Church law".
The ordination of Fr Joseph Ma Yinglin and Fr Joseph Liu Xinhong, on April 28 and May 3 respectively, were punished with excommunication latae sententiae. In a statement by the Vatican Press Office, they were defined as "a grave violation of religious freedom", that cause the Pope "profound sorrow".
The prelate told AsiaNews that "it would seem that the ordination were planned disobeying the orders of the government. Now we cannot expect Beijing to slam the ceremony; at the same time we cannot put all the blame on the small local Church locale, led by a 94-year-old bishop".
Cardinal Zen, who is on his way to Vietnam, has also made an official statement in which he stressed that what has happened is damaging the real interest of the country. In it he calls on China's leaders, "[b]ased on the paramount principle of harmony, [. . .] to make a firm decision to start a substantial dialogue with the Holy See".
Here is the cardinal's full statement:
"It is hard to understand how there can be people who obstinately work for destruction. Under the cloak of serving the Church, they work to destroy her unity. The illegitimate ordination of a bishop in Xuzhou on 30th November made it more evident how those with vested interests are terribly afraid that the Church one day may operate normally and freely according to her Constitution.
"Organisms outside the Church continue to use the power given by the State to support the renegade believers and damage the true good of the Country.
"What happened this time is even more serious than what happened between the end of April and the beginning of May, because:
1) at that time, the Holy See made it clear once more that such illegitimate ordinations are a very serious offence, punishable with sanctions fixed in Church law;
2) the central Government, after those facts, invited a delegation from the Holy See to Beijing and promised not to promote such ordinations any more;
3) in order to achieve their purpose, the methods they used this time are not only threat, allurement, and deceit, but also forceful abduction and kidnapping!
"They tried to put the responsibility on the local church, a 94-year-old bishop! That makes them simply ridiculous.
"Out of love for our Country and for our Church, we appeal to our highest leaders: please, do not allow any more people who disregard the true good of the Country, to go on damaging our Church, hurting the feelings of innumerable believers, and causing our Country to become the laughing-stock in the human family of the world.
"Based on the paramount principle of harmony, we beg you to make a firm decision to start a substantial dialogue with the Holy See, to find a way acceptable to both, the State and the Holy See, so that the Church in our Country may operate normally and the faithful may be happy to offer themselves and contribute to the real good of our Country."