Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Mgr Joseph
Chen Guangao this morning was ordained bishop of Nanchong (Sichuan). The newly ordained prelate was
approved by the Holy See in 2010, but had wanted to delay the ordination ceremony
to ensure no excommunicated bishops participated. Instead, today, together with
the five bishops in communion with the pope, Msgr. Paul Lei Shiyin of Leshan,
ordained June 29 last year without papal mandate, insisted on participating. The
has repeatedly requested that the ordinations of bishops are done according to
Christian tradition, excluding those not in communion with the pope. Commenting
on the incident to AsiaNews, Mgr. Savio
Hon said: "If you choose the path of disobedience, it solves nothing and
you risk self-destruction."
The ceremony was held in Nanchong in a quiet way. In addition to the bishops, 80 priests attended and almost a thousand faithful: 800 housed in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the remaining in a nearby area with an audio-video link.
Presiding at the celebration Msgr. Peter Fang Jianping of Tangshan, along with Msgr. Joseph Li Jing of Ningxia, Paul He Zeqing of Wanzhou, Msgr. Paul Xiao Zejiang of Guiyang and Msgr. Peter Luo Xuegang of Yibin. They were joined by Msgr. Paul Lei Shiyin, president of the Patriotic Association of Sichuan, who also insisted on laying his hands on the newly ordained.
Some faithful see Msgr. Lei's gesture as one of "disrespect" to the new bishop - known for his loyalty to the Church and the commitment to evangelization - and to the community of Nanchong. The insistence on not following the instructions of the Holy See with regards to ordinations threatens to divide the official and underground communities, and also increases criticism of the false religious freedom that the government guarantees. "President Hu Jintao is always talking about harmony in society - said one believer - but these presumptuous gestures create division." An underground priest expressed his "sorrow for what has been done by Msgr. Lei. A bishop should be a sign of unity, but instead he foments division."
From the Vatican, Msgr. Savio Hon, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, spoke to AsiaNews of his "sorrow" at what has been done by Msgr. Lei. "He has failed to respect the person of the new bishop and to the community. He should have considered the needs of others and certainly not take part."
Archbishop Hon, adds: "This explicit act of disobedience creates even more problems for him and the community. In China, the Church has so many problems and issues: the path of disobedience does not solve anything, in fact it runs the risk of self-destruction. "