Rome (AsiaNews) - Catholics in Harbin (Heilongjiang), in far north-east China, are praying and fasting to avert an episcopal ordination without papal mandate. Sources tell AsiaNews that "no one wants this ordination: neither official nor underground Catholics not even the candidate himself. The Patriotic Association (PA) just wants to assert its power over the Church and give a slap in the face to the Vatican. "
The candidate for bishop is the Fr. Joseph Yue Fusheng, 48, the diocesan administrator of Heilongjiang for a number of years. For several years the PA has been pushing him to become a bishop, but both he, and the faithful are contrary to an ordination without the mandate of the pope.
According to local sources, Fr. Yue was appointed back in '99 to become bishop. Some attribute this choice to the fact that he is "not brave and rather weak of character." 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 (Diocese of Leshan) 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; 14/07/2011 Eight bishops in communion with the pope forced to take part in illegitimate ordination in Shantou).
Then last year it was reported that he would be ordained, but the opposition of all the faithful and the priests prevented it from taking place. But now Fr. Yue was voted "freely" by a diocesan committee (controlled by the PA) and the restoration of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart started in preparation for the event.
The faithful are concerned that the ordination will be carried out 29 June, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, almost like an insult to the Pope, successor of Peter.
"Everyone knows the canon law - AsiaNews sources say - and even the faithful know it's not legitimate to ordain a bishop without papal mandate. But obviously it was decided from above, as a further affirmation of the power of the PA on the Church. "
Harbin has several thousand-at least 6 thousand - faithful, between the underground and official communities. The relationship between them is relatively calm. "Both - the AsiaNews sources say - have decided not to cooperate at all with the ordination and will not do any preparation. Rather they are praying and fasting so it will not happen. "
Police are meeting underground priests one by one to "invite" them to do nothing against the ordination , not to pass judgment and above all to keep quiet.