Beijing (AsiaNews) – The unlawful ordination of Fr Shen Guoan as bishop of Hankou was postponed to an unspecified future date. It had been set to take place this Friday.
A local priest today told AsiaNews that the ordination was postponed with explanations or a new date. Another priest in a neighbouring province confirmed the information, adding that he was told about the change last Friday or Saturday. Catholics in Hankou said they hoped this “unlawful ordination would not occur in their diocese.”
Anthony Liu Bainian, honorary chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, had recently threatened to go ahead with unlawful ordinations. He had told the Vatican “not to interfere in the work of self-elected and self-managed bishops,” a statement seen by many as a challenge and a threat against the Holy See whereby more bishops would be ordained without the papal mandate.
Mgr Savio Hon, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, on Friday had expressed his concern for the possible unlawful ordination in Hankou in an interview with AsiaNews.
“I am concerned about the report. The pope is concerned as well, as is the Church of China as a whole. From what I know, the faithful in Hankou have reacted by pleading with the government and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), citing the Code of Canon Law, not to carry out this ordination.”
“It would appear,” he added, “that the candidate, Fr Shen Guoan, is against it, too. Sadly, at present we do not know what the candidate actually thinks. However, from brother to brother, I want to tell Fr Shen, ‘I trust you to act the right way. The only right thing to do is to refuse’.”
On 18 May, The pope had urged the faithful around the world to pray so that Chinese bishops’ “desire to stay in the one and Universal Church” would “overcome the temptation to take a path independent of Peter.”
On that occasion, the pope had also called for prayers for the Church in China, to “enlighten those who are in doubt, recall those who are lost, comfort the afflicted, strengthen those who are ensnared by the false flattery of opportunism”.