04/29/2006, 00.00
CHINA – HONG KONG - VATICAN
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Card. Zen: "Suspend ordination of Kunming bishop"

In a fax sent this morning to officials of the diocese in Yunan, the cardinal "requested the ordaining bishop and co-ordaining bishops to suspend the episcopal ordination of Fr Ma Yinglin, because he has not received approval from the Holy See."

Rome (AsiaNews) – The Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, has asked the diocese of Kunming "to suspend the episcopal ordination of Fr Ma Yinglin, because he has not received approval from the Holy See".

The request was sent by fax to diocese officials today, 29 April at 10.30am (local time). It says: "The Holy See until today has not approved Fr Ma Yinglin to accept episcopal ministry. Therefore, the ordaining bishop and co-ordaining bishops are requested to suspend the ordination."

The ceremony, scheduled for tomorrow 30 April in Kunming (in Yunan) was prepared by the Patriotic Association, especially by its vice-president, the layman, Antonio Liu Bainian, who wants at all costs to ordain a priest as bishop without permission from the Holy See.

Fr Ma, age 40, is currently secretary of the official Church's Council of Bishops (a sort of episcopal conference, not recognized by the Vatican) and holds various offices in the Patriotic Association, the organism that controls the Church, and whose statutes include the goal of creating a national Church detached from the Holy See.

According to AsiaNews sources in Beijing, Fr Ma would also be of the opinion not to go ahead with this ordination, but Liu Bainian, for whom he has worked since 1999, is determined to go ahead against the wishes of the Holy See.

This new ordination would create many new problems for the Church and the government of China. The first is the ecclesial position of the candidate who is automatically outside ecclesial communion (latae sentientiae excommunication). Nowadays, Chinese Catholics reject a bishop if he is not approved by the Vatican and do not take part in his functions, preferring to swell the ranks of the underground Church.

Plus, such a challenge by the PA shines a bad light on the government, which thus appears to be driven by mid-level authorities and their anti-Holy See expressions, while top officials - at least over this last year - have been engaging in signs of détente and dialogue with the Vatican.

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