12/02/2006, 00.00
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Holy See: Ordination caused pope's sorrow and laceration of ecclesial community

The Vatican press office has issued an official statement about the illegitimate ordination of Wang Renlei that took place on 30 November.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The illicit ordination that took place in Xuzhou (Jiangsu) on 30 November has caused the pope "profound sorrow" and is an "extremely grave" act, which has offended "the religious sentiments of each and every Catholic in China and the rest of the world". The ordination, which took place in defiance of canon law, "does not correspond to Catholic doctrine" and "subverts fundamental principles" of the hierarchical structure of the Church. The Vatican press office today issued a statement about the illegitimate ordination of a bishop in Xuzhou, which we publish here in full.

"The Holy See feels duty-bound to makes its position known about the episcopal ordination of the priest John Wang Renlei, that took place on Thursday 30 November u.s., in Xuzhou in Jiangsu province (mainland China).

1) The Holy Father learned about the news with profound sorrow, since the above-mentioned episcopal ordination was conferred without a pontifical mandate, that is, without respecting the discipline of the Catholic Church about the appointment of Bishops (cfr Canon 377 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law).

2) The ordination in Xuzhou is the latest – chronologically – in a series of illegitimate episcopal ordinations that have afflicted the Catholic Church in China for decades, creating division in diocesan communities and tormenting the conscience of many clerics and faithful. This series of extremely grave acts, which offend the religious sentiments of each and every Catholic in China and the rest of the world, are the fruit and consequence of a vision of the Church that does not correspond with Catholic doctrine and subverts the fundamental principles of its hierarchical structure. In fact, as specified by the Second Vatican Council, "one is constituted a member of the episcopal body in virtue of sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with the head and members of the body" (Lumen Gentium, n. 22, first line).

3) The Holy See, getting to know about the episcopal ordination in the diocese of Xuzhou only at the last minute, did not fall short of taking those steps that could possibly be undertaken in the short time at its disposal, so that this act, which would have produced a new laceration in the ecclesial community, would not come about. In fact, an illegitimate Episcopal ordination is objectively such a serious act that canon law establishes severe sanctions for those who confer or receive it, always if the act is undertaken in conditions of true freedom (cfr Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law).

4) It is consoling to see that, despite past and present difficulties, nearly all the Bishops, priests, members of religious orders and lay people in China, aware that they make up a living part of the universal Church, have maintained a deep communion of faith and life with the Successor of Peter and with all the Catholic communities scattered around the world.

5) The Holy See is aware of the spiritual drama and suffering of those clerics – consecrating Bishops and Ordinands – who find themselves forced to take an active part in illicit episcopal ordinations, thus contravening Catholic tradition, which they desire to follow faithfully in their hearts. Further, it shares in the inner unease felt by those Catholics – priests, religious and lay people – who are obliged to welcome a Pastor who they know is not in full hierarchical communion neither with the head of the College of Bishops nor with other Bishops scattered around the world.

6) As regards episcopal ordinations, the Holy See cannot accept to be faced with accomplished facts. Therefore, it deplores the way of proceeding in the ordination of the priest, Wang Renlei, which took place in Xuzhou, and augurs that incidents of the kind will not be repeated in the future."

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Episcopal ordination in Xuzhou is "indecent and astounding", says Card Zen
Bishop escapes from abductors to avoid participating in an ordination not allowed by the Holy See
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