11/07/2016, 15.05
VATICAN – CHINA
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Press Office reacts to "alleged" unlawful episcopal ordinations in China

The reference is to the unlawful (and private) ordination of Fr Dong Guanhua, Hebei, which was immediately condemned by the underground Church. Some blame underground Catholics; others believe that the self-ordained priest is a government spy who wants to divide the Church.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In a statement, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, restated that episcopal ordinations in China need a pontifical mandate. In his note, he “reiterated that it is not licit to proceed with any episcopal ordination [. . .] even by appealing to particular personal beliefs.”

The reference is to rumours regarding the episcopal ordination of Fr Dong Guanghua, an underground priest in Hebei who got himself ordained bishop "in private" and offered himself to ordain others who might want to do the same (pictured).

Fr Dong’s action was immediately condemned by the underground Church, but it has sparked a whirlwind of discussions and generated a lot of bitterness, with some trying to blame the underground Church for Fr Dong’s "private” act. Some even suspect that Fr Dong might be a government spy whose mission is to sow confusion in the Church and exacerbate divisions.

Here is the statement by the director of the Holy See Press Office:

 “In recent weeks, there has been a series of reports regarding some episcopal ordinations conferred without Papal Mandate of priests of the unofficial community of the Catholic Church in Continental China.

“The Holy See has not authorised any ordination, nor has it been officially informed of such events. Should such episcopal ordinations have occurred, they would constitute a grave violation of canonical norms.

“The Holy See hopes that such reports are baseless. If not, it will have to await reliable information and sure documentation before adequately evaluating the cases. However, it is reiterated that it is not licit to proceed with any episcopal ordination without the necessary Papal Mandate, even by appealing to particular personal beliefs.”

7 November 2016

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