Undergound bishops in China ask for prayers for official priests facing pressure and threats
Following illicit ordinations achieved through violence and deceit the Patriotic Association subjects priests to political sessions and brainwashing to destroy their faithfulness to the pope. AsiaNews supports the bishops' appeal.
Rome (AsiaNews) Bishops of the underground Church are appealing to the faithful throughout China to pray for priests of the official Church, that they may be strengthened in their faithfulness to the pope. Such prayers are meant to contrast the work of the Patriotic Association (P.A.) which, following various illicit ordinations over past days, is subjecting priests to political and brainwashing sessions in order to break their ties with Rome.
"In this moment it is necessary to pray for all priests of the official Church," an underground bishop from northern China told AsiaNews. "It is our duty. For this reason, I ask all Chinese Catholics, official and underground, to pray for this intention: that true loyalty to the pope is reinforced in priests."
On April 30 and May 3, the P.A. forced candidates and bishops to carry out episcopal ordinations without the Vatican's approval. The P.A. is the organization tied to the Communist Party, which controls the official Church. Among the objectives contained in its statutes is the creation a national Church separate from the pope. According to a Vatican statement on May 4, the two ordinations in Kunming and Wuhu were carried out "under strong pressure and threats." A bishop of the official Church in central China confirmed to AsiaNews that the two ordination candidates were under pressure and that various ordaining bishops were deceived, having been told that approval had been obtained from the Holy See. Furthermore, at least one of the two candidates has been imposed by the P.A. on the entire diocese.
The vice-president of the P.A., layman Anthony Liu Bainian, has assured that, over forthcoming months, he will see to at least another 20 illicit ordinations, pushing the Chinese Church toward a schism. In preparation for such ordinations, the P.A. is organizing "retreats" in all official dioceses that all priests are obliged to attend. These "retreats" the official bishop states are actually political conferences in which Liu Bainian and his secretaries give instruction on the importance of a Church "autonomous" in doctrine, jurisdiction and administration. "Our priest," he adds, "are subjected to enormous pressure that they cannot escape."
Underground bishops underline that "the official Church is faced with a very difficult challenge. The difficulties that they are up against constitute full-blown persecution, made up of sufferance and pressure inflicted by the P.A. and the government." Given this critical moment, underground bishops ask that "all Catholics, united with the Pope, pray for the priests of the official Church, that they be given the strength and courage to guard their faith."
Another underground bishop of the north remarked: "I have never stopped praying for the official Church and for priests, that they be faithful to the pope. In unity and prayer, we can overcome this challenge.
AsiaNews gives its support to the bishops' appeal for prayer in favour of religious freedom in China. The proposal is that, each day, until Pentecost, in Churches around the world, Catholics pray to the Holy Spirit and Our Lady with the following intention: that bishops and priests be given strength and courage in the face of persecution, pressure and threats that seek to destroy the unity of Chinese Catholics with the Pope.
We ask all our readers and the faithful especially contemplatives to join and promote this effort.
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