by Jian Mei - W. Zhicheng
Three bishops were taken in the past two days: the bishop of Guangzhou has been missing for days. In Shenyang Mgr. Pei Junmin, designated to preside over the celebration, is being defended by his priests and faithful with a non-stop sit-in in the cathedral. PA claims the Vatican "divides the Church in China and creates more disputes."
Guangzhou (AsiaNews) - Four bishops in communion with the pope in Guangdong have disappeared and taken away by government officials in recent days to prepare for the illegitimate episcopal ordination of Fr Huang Bingzhang (see photo), which will take place July 14 in Shantou.
Nobody knows where the four pastors are being held. Local sources tell AsiaNews, that Mgr. Liang Jiansen, of Jiangmen, ordained in March 2011, was sobbing last night as he was dragged away by government representatives. Another source says that Mgr. Liao Hongqing of Meizhou, together with Mgr. Yongda of Zhanjiang were taken away on July 9. Bishop Joseph Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou has been missing for days, his faithful “are constantly praying for him and some of his priests to be faithful to the principles of the Church at this critical time."
In addition to those in Guangdong, four other bishop, all in communion with the pope, are slated to participate in the Shantou ordination.
Meanwhile, Msgr. Paul Pei Junmin of Liaoning, designated as the principal celebrant, is being protected by his priests in the Cathedral of Shenyang (see 08/07/2011: Liaoning priests rush to defense of bishop to prevent his participation in illegitimate ordination)
. Yesterday all priests celebrated a Mass together, praying for the unity of the diocese. It was a deeply moving moment when the bishop thanked the faithful for their solidarity, and sang with them the hymn "The Lord bless you." In November 2010 Msgr. Pei was forced to participate in illegal episcopal ordination of Chengde.
Uniformed and plain clothes police are positioned outside the cathedral. Yesterday, the priests of Liaoning published a message explaining their presence in the cathedral: "To defend the faith, we priests come together in the cathedral for a week and will continue to stay there until this storm passes."
Last night all the priests held a prayer meeting. From now on, the faithful, have begun a perpetual non-stop devotion, to protect the Church.
In recent days a photo appeared that depicted a young man with a T-shirt, topped with the inscription: "To avoid the excommunications, eliminate illicit ordinations." For some believers this is a sign of pain and anger caused by the illicit ordinations in recent months.
For several months, the Patriotic Association (PA) and the government have planned a series of ordinations without papal mandate. The last that which took place was on June 29 in Leshan. On 4 July, the Holy See issued a statement in which it excommunicated the ordained bishop (Mgr. Lei Shiyin) and warned the bishops who participated (see 07/04/2011 The Holy See condemns Leshan ordination
In recent days, many Catholic websites in China have reported on a statement from the PA and the National Council of Chinese bishops. In all likelihood it was written by Fr Yang Yu, a spokesman for the PA. The statement expresses "deep regret" over the move by the Vatican, accusing it of not promoting the unity of the Church in China and instead creating greater divisions.
The declaration says that the diocese of Leshan, founded in 1946, has more than 70 thousand Catholics under the leadership of Lei Shiyin and his priests, who until the end assisted their predecessor, Msgr. Luo Duxi, who died in December 2009. On 18 March, 2010, the statement continues, the diocese held an election and Lei won by 31 votes to 27.
Although relations between China and the Vatican are not normalized - it adds - the Church in China faces urgent need for evangelization and it is understandable that the local Churches elect bishops to fill the diocesan sees left vacant.
But the reality is that the rhetoric of "evangelization" hides a project to control all Episcopal ordinations. The Shantou ordination is proof of this, where the candidate, Fr. Huang Bingzhang, was elected at a session controlled and manipulated by the PA. In addition, the diocese has a bishop in the person of Mgr. Zhuang Jianjian, secretly ordained with the approval of the Holy See in 2006. But the PA does not recognize him as a bishop and has always restrained his pastoral work. Since last December, he has been held under constant police surveillance and during Holy Week was prevented from carrying out his ministry.