Rome (AsiaNews) - An Episcopal ordination
approved by the Holy See will take place tomorrow in Nanchong (Sichuan). However,
an excommunicated bishop might attend the ceremony despite Vatican instructions.
Fr Joseph Chen Gongao, 47, served
as diocesan secretary and administrator in Nanchong and was rector of the
Sichuan Catholic Seminary.
Mgr Peter Fang Jianping of
Tangshan, who will ordain him, took part in unlawful
ordinations in Leshan but he later asked for forgiveness and was pardoned
by the Holy See.
However, another unlawful bishop ordained
in Leshan, Mgr Paul Lei Shiyin, might attend tomorrow's ceremony. He remains in
a state of excommunication.
When UCANews asked him if he would attend the Nanchong ordination, Fr
Lei yesterday said, "Why should I not go?"
President of the Chinese Patriotic
Catholic Association (CPCA) in Sichuan, Mgr Lei has already participated in the
Episcopal ordination of Bishop Peter Luo Xuegang of Yibin.
The Vatican reacted at the time by
issuing a statement in which it expressed its regrets that Mgr Lei had "aggravated
Following last year's two
unlawful Episcopal ordinations in Leshan and Shantou, which various bishops in
communion with the pope were forced to attend, often against their will, the
Vatican said that ordination ceremonies approved by the Holy See must respect
Catholic tradition, which means that no one under excommunication can
The presence of excommunicated bishops
is a source of division within the Church and among the faithful. It drives communities
to resist CPCA abuses and Maoist practices.
Fr Joseph Chen Gongao is known as
a good evangeliser and a loyal servant of the Catholic Church.
He was elected bishop in 2010 but
delayed his ordination because he and his community wanted to ensure that no
unlawful bishop would be present.
Nevertheless, some Nanchong
Catholics are still hoping that if Mgr Lei does come that he will take part in
the ceremony without demanding to place his hand on the new bishop.
The diocese of Nanchong (about
200 km north of Chongqing) has 80,000 members and dozens of priests and