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» 05/04/2006
Holy See: illicit ordinations in China are a "serious violation of religious freedom"

A statement by Navarro speaks of the Pope's "profound distress", "pressures and threats" against bishops and priests, and recalls the "serious sanctions" foreseen by canon law.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The illicit episcopal ordinations that recently took place in China are "a serious violation of religious freedom", which have caused the Pope « great distress » and stand in the way of dialogue.  The Vatican takes a strong and anguished position on the ordinations, which took place on April 30 and May 3, of two bishops in China.

A statement by spokesman Joaquin Navarro stresses that priests and bishops were subjected to "heavy pressure and threats" by "entities outside the Church," effectively the Patriotic Association, so that they would take part in the ordinations which, in any case, call for "severe canonical sanctions," meaning excommunication.

The Holy See then speaks of the "tormented journey of the Catholic Church in China" and states that "despite being aware of certain peculiarities of this journey, it thought and hoped that such deplorable episodes were by now a thing of the past."  It also serves warning against other ordinations and repeats its availability for "honest and constructive dialogue with appropriate Chinese authorities."

"I am able," the Vatican statement, released in Italian, reads, "to make known the Holy See's position on the episcopal ordinations of priests Joseph Ma Yinglin and Joseph Liu Xinhong, which took place, respectively, Sunday, last April 30, in Kunming (Yunnan province) and on the 2nd of the current month of May, in Wuhu (Anhui province).

"The Holy Father learned with profound distressed of the news, as such an important act for the life of the Church, as is an episcopal ordination, was carried out in both cases without respecting the needs of communion with the Pope.  It is a serious blow to the unity of the Church, which calls for, as is known, severe canonical sanctions (cf canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law).

"According to the information received, Bishops and priests were subjected – by entities outside the Church – to heavy pressure and threats, so that they would take part in the episcopal ordinations which, lacking pontifical mandate, are illegitimate and, furthermore, contrary to their conscience.  Various Prelates opposed such pressures, while others could only suffer them with great interior suffering.  Episodes of this kind tear apart not only communities but consciences as well.

"We are therefore faced with a serious violation of religious freedom, even if efforts where made to make it appear that these two episcopal ordinations were dutiful acts for providing a Pastor to vacant dioceses.

"The Holy See is giving careful attention to the tormented journey of the Catholic Church in China and, despite being aware of certain peculiarities of this journey, thought and hoped that such deplorable episodes were by now a thing of the past.  It now considers it to be its precise duty to give voice to the suffering of the Catholic Church as a whole, in particular to that of the Catholic community in China and especially to that of Bishops and priests who see themselves forced against conscience to carry out and participate in episcopal ordinations, which neither the candidate nor the consecrating Bishop want to perform without having received pontifical mandate.

"If the news is true that other episcopal ordinations are to take place in the same way, the Holy See repeats the need for respecting the freedom of the Church and the autonomy of its institutions from any kind of external interference, and strongly hopes, therefore, that such unacceptable acts of violent and inadmissible constriction are never repeated.

"The Holy See has, on various occasions, reaffirmed it availability for honest and constructive dialogue with appropriate Chinese Authorities for the purpose of finding solutions that satisfy the legitimate needs of both Parties.

"Not only do initiatives such as those indicated above not encourage such dialogue, but they create new obstacles to them."

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See also
05/09/2006 VATICAN - CHINA
Card. Zen: Chinese government is mistaken; all in China want to be led by pope
01/18/2007 VATICAN - CHINA
Meeting at Vatican on the Church in China
by Bernardo Cervellera
07/13/2006 EU – CHINA – VATICAN
EU foreign affairs committee calls for release of detained Chinese bishops
05/15/2006 china - vatican
Monsignor Zhan Silu installs himself as bishop and condemns himself to isolation
05/15/2006 china - vatican
Zhan Silu, a bishop against everything and against everyone
Chinese bishop to be ordained against Pope's wishes
Card. Zen: "Suspend ordination of Kunming bishop"
Episcopal ordination in Kunming "destroys mutual trust between Holy See and Beijing"
"A slap in the face against the Vatican": new episcopal ordination without pope's approval
New bishop ordained in Anhui without Pope's permission
Relations between China and the Holy See within five years, says Mgr Li Duan
Undergound bishops in China ask for prayers for official priests facing pressure and threats
Bishop approved by pope to be ordained tomorrow in Shenyang.
EU: Beijing should consider religious freedom as partner not threat
No to a state Church in China, says MEP
US ambassador aligned with Vatican about religious freedom in China
Bishop Mgr Pei Junmin ordained with Pope's approval
Card. Zen: Chinese government is mistaken; all in China want to be led by pope
Cardinals, monasteries and faithful worldwide join prayer campaign

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