Diocese of Xuanhua: In Zhangjiakou, illegitimate priestly ordinations for a 'diocese' that does not exist for the Holy See
The vicar general of Xuanhua cites a 2019 letter from Card. Filoni and the Code of Canon Law to justify the actions of his diocese. Msgr. Guo, the formerly excommunicated official bishop did not consider the bishop unofficial, in line with the Party’s aim to eradicate the underground Church, betraying the principles of the Sino-Vatican Agreement.
Xuanhua (AsiaNews) - The so-called "diocese of Zhangjiakou" is "an illegal diocese, not recognized by the Holy See"; the priestly ordinations that took place last May 11 are "illegitimate" and cannot be recognized by the Church, states the vicar general of the diocese of Xuanhua, Msgr. Simone Zhang Jianlin.
Devoid of anger and citing word for word the Code of Canon Law, Msgr. Zhang shows that Zhangjiakou - a diocese recognized only by the government - does not exist for the Catholic Church and therefore cannot have "its own" clergy.
Msgr. Guo Jincai, a formerly excommunicated bishop, reconciled to the Church by Pope Francis, acted contrary to the Code and Ecclesial Communion: he did not consider the real bishop who also presides over the faithful of Zhangjiakou, who is Msgr. Agostino Cui Tai, currently missing in police custody.
Msgr. Guo should have received the nulla osta (the "dimissorial letters") from Msgr. Cui Tai (or his auxiliary) to proceed with the ordinations. In this way, men who had been discharged from other seminaries, who have mental and moral disorders, have been ordained.
The haste with which the ordinations were carried out was primarily due to the priest whom the government placed at the head of the community of Zhangjiakou, Fr. Wang Zhengui. According to some faithful, he has a great desire to be recognized as a bishop and at the same time he would like to prepare a large priestly community for the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, which will also take place in Zhangjiakou (4-20 February 2022).
Msgr. Guo Jincai displayed greater concern for obedience to the rules of the government than to those of the Church, ignoring the relationship with the bishop of Xuanhua, who, recognised only by the Holy See, is seen by the Party as a "criminal".
Msgr. Zhang Jianlin’s statement even cites a 2019 letter from Card. Fernando Filoni, then Prefect of Propaganda Fide, who reaffirmed the Holy See’s exclusive recognition of the existence of the real diocese, namely Xuanhua. In 2019, the provisional agreement between the Vatican and China had already been signed, with the premise of leaving the situations regarding underground bishops to be dealt with at a later date. Instead the illicit ordinations of these days, in addition to the fines imposed on bishops and priests, instead show the attempt to erase unofficial communities and bishops, betraying the Agreement.
Here is the declaration of the diocese of Xuanhua (translated from Chinese by AsiaNews).
The "diocese of Zhangjiakou" is an illegal diocese, not recognized by the Holy See, it is a historical product that divides the Church, corrupting its unity of communion. As we all know, the division of dioceses is the responsibility of the Holy See.
“As regards your question about the diocese of Zhangjiakou placed in the letter dated 04.03.2019, Cardinal Filoni reiterates that the Holy See still recognizes only the diocese of Xuanhua. Therefore, Father Wang Zhengui appointed by the government as head of a nonexistent diocese, and all the other priests belonging to the communities of the Official Church must obey you.”
(Quote from the Letter written by Cardinal Filoni on 11/29/2019 addressed to Bishop Cui Tai).
The diocese of Xuanhua has a very clear position on ordination. (We do not intend to criticize and punish anyone, but to clarify our position according to the laws, attaching the relevant articles contained in the Code of Canon Law).
Since the aforementioned "diocese of Zhangjiakou" does not have legitimacy at the level of the discipline of the Church, and since the recent diaconal and priestly ordinations and candidates have not been previously discussed with Bishop Cui Tai, nor have they obtained any delegation from the present bishop of the diocese, it is therefore an illegitimate process. On the basis of the Code of Canon Law and the principles of the social doctrine of the Church, the present diocese does not recognize this ordination.
According to the Church code, it is declared:
1. The three people who have just been ordained - Sun Yibao, Song Li, Zhang Jianwei - are not allowed to exercise ministry in the jurisdictional area of the diocese of Xuanhua; the sacraments administered by them (penance, confirmation, marriage) are invalid, and the Eucharist and other sacraments are illegitimate.
2. If the members of the priestly group of the diocese of Xuanhua leave the diocese of Xuanhua in any way by participating in other dioceses or communities, they will automatically lose all right of administration in the diocese of Xuanhua. All sacraments administered according to canons 1371.2, 1374, 1339.1 and 2. This penalty lasts until all these behaviours are corrected, and the ordained priests must present a written explanation to the bishop of the diocese, and they will be readmitted to communion when the bishop of the diocese publicly accepts it!
3. The diocese reserves the right of explanation with respect to the Holy See.
4. Bishop Guo Jincai presided over the ordination without having been invited or appointed to do so. Since Bishop Guo had not discussed it with Bishop Cui Tai of Xuanhua, nor obtained his delegation, he thus grossly violated the Church Code. (During the ordination rite the ordained was asked: "Do you obey the Superior of your Church?" The person concerned replied: "I obey", but without specifying which Superior).
Simone Zhang Jianlin
Vicar General of the Diocese of Xuanhua:
May 13, 2021
Code of Canon Law
Can. 1371n - The following are to be punished with a just penalty:
2° a person who in any other way does not obey the lawful command or prohibition of the Apostolic See or the Ordinary or Superior and, after being warned, persists in disobedience.
Can. 1374 A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty - one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict.
Can. 1339 - §1An ordinary, personally or through another, can warn a person who is in the proximate occasion of committing a delict or upon whom, after investigation, grave suspicion of having committed a delict has fallen.
§2. He can also rebuke a person whose behavior causes scandal or a grave disturbance of order, in a manner accommodated to the special conditions of the person and the deed.
Can. 1383 A bishop who, contrary to the prescript of can. 1015, ordains without legitimate dimissorial letters someone who is not his subject is prohibited for a year from conferring the order. The person who has received the ordination, however, is ipso facto suspended from the order received.
Can. 1015 §1. Each person is to be ordained to the presbyterate or the diaconate by his proper bishop or with legitimate dimissorial letters from him.