Beijing (AsiaNews) - Catholics in Harbin are opposing by every possible means the excessive power of the Party and the Patriotic Association (PA) who have given the go ahead to the illegitimate episcopal ordination of Joseph Yue Fusheng on July 6th.
Many believers continue to pray and fast in the hope that this gesture of contempt for the spiritual authority of the pope will not come to pass, many priests are hiding and leaving town to avoid being forced to attend the ceremony, organisers still can not find a choir to sing during the liturgy of consecration. Meanwhile, the cathedral is under the police control (for "security reasons") and access is blocked.
For more than a year the faithful and the priests of the diocese have opposed the idea of Fr. Yue's ordination without the mandate of the pope. Two weeks ago it was rumoured that the ordination would take place on June 29, the feast of St. Peter and Paul ("to celebrate the pope"), but then it did not happen. Even now there are still many unclear and confused aspects: the time of the ceremony and bishops who will be the concelebrants are still unknown. Until yesterday they were not to be found. Today, apparently, the PA has conscripted six bishops, all recognized by the Holy See, to force them to participate.
Yesterday, a note released by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, reminds all Chinese bishops who actively participate in the ordination they put themselves at risk of excommunication. The note points out that "the appointment of bishops is a not political, but religious matter " and that in the Catholic Church, it must be done under the authority of the pope, to "guarantee the unity of the Church and of hierarchical communion."
The Cathedral of Harbin holds up to 1000 people standing. But it is likely that it will be deserted. "There will not be many people attending," says one of the faithful. "Perhaps there will be some Catholics who come from outside, or from the country, who do not understand the issue at stake. Several may come just out of curiosity, to see an Episcopal ordination which they have never witnessed."
Regarding the presence of six bishops - whose names so far have not been made public - a priest says: "This move is typical of the Patriotic Association strategy: to make the bishops in communion with the Pope act against the discipline of the Church, mingling right and wrong, true and false. " "It's a real battle between the devil and the Church," he adds. "It's like the fight described in the Apocalypse [Rev. 12, 1-12] of the woman with the child at risk of being devoured by the dragon."
Fr. Yue, 48, has been pushing for his ordination for years. In December 2010 (see: 09/12/2010 Assembly elects new leadership, causing major harm to the Church) he was chosen as one of three vice-presidents of the National PA, with Paul, Lei Shiyin (Leshan diocese) and Joseph Huang Bingzhang (Shantou), both became bishops without papal approval (see: 29/06/2011 Leshan: seven legitimate bishops take part in Episcopal ordination that had no papal mandate and 14/07/2011 Eight bishops in communion with the pope forced to take part in illegitimate ordination in Shantou).
The PA considers the fact that it is the pope to appoint bishops superfluous and wants to erase all differences between those nominated by the Party and those appointed by the Holy See. For this reason it has been increasingly obliging bishops in communion with the pope to participate in illicit Episcopal ordinations and inserts excommunicated bishops in Episcopal ordinations approved by the Vatican.
On July 7, in Shanghai, Fr. Thaddeus Ma Daqin will be ordained bishop coadjutor, approved by the pope. But the PA has already said that the illegitimate bishop of Mindong, Msgr. Vincent Zhang Silu, will attend the ceremony.