Tensions and fears in China about new Episcopal ordination without papal mandate
by Wang Zhicheng
Fr Joseph Huang Bingzhang, who is politically connected and ambitious, is the candidate. The Holy See told him on several occasions that it was opposed to his ordination. The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association plans more unlawful ordinations.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Chinese Catholics are “pained” and “concerned” about recent reports that a new Episcopal ordination is scheduled for 14 July in Shantou (Guangdong) without papal mandate.
The latest action by the government against the Catholic Church comes a few days after the Vatican issued a statement rejecting an Episcopal ordination carried out in Leshan, on 29 June. In the same declaration, it reiterated that the ordained candidate and the ordaining clergy were excommunicated latae sententiae (see Bernardo Cervellera, “The Holy See condemns Leshan ordination,” in AsiaNews, 04 July 2011).
If the candidate in Shantou appears at the ordination, he will be excommunicated, as would the ordaining bishops, unless they can provide concrete evidence that they are being forced into it, which is probable.
Fr Joseph Huang Bingzhang, 44, is the candidate to the post of bishop of Shantou. He was voted in during an election controlled by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) (see Paul Wang, “Patriotic Association threatens 10 Episcopal ordinations without papal mandate,” in AsiaNews, 16 May 2011).
In addition, not only was the election rigged, but the problem is compounded by the fact that Shantou already has a bishop, Mgr Zhuang Jianjian, who was ordained secretly with the approval of the Holy See in 2006.
The legitimate bishop is not however recognised by the CPCA, which has tried to prevent him from performing his pastoral work. Indeed, he was placed under police surveillance last December, and was prevented from conducting his ministry during Holy Week.
Sources told AsiaNews that the Holy See on several occasions told Fr Huang, who is politically connected and ambitious, not to run in the election.
AsiaNews has also learnt that the CPCA is planning more unlawful Episcopal ordinations in order to bring a de facto schism between the Chinese Church and the Universal Church.