Chinese bishop ordained without papal authority is excommunicated
The Vatican excommunicated recently a bishop who was ordained by the Chinese government-controlled Three Self Church without papal approval.
The Vatican excommunicated Paul Lei Shiyinrecently after he was ordained in Sichuan province last week despite objections from the Holy See. Seven bishops attended the ordination.
In a statement the Holy See said Lei Shiyin “has no authority to govern the diocesan Catholic community, and the Holy See does not recognize him.”
The excommunication is expected to further aggravate the already tenuous relations between China’s Communist Party and the Holy See.
Meanwhile, the country’s state run church has threatened to continue to defy the Vatican. There are some 5.7 million Catholics in China who attend either the state recognized church or house churches.
A statement from the Vatican expressed deep sadness on the part of Pope Benedict XVI at the latest move by China’s Three Self Church, which the Vatican said “sows division and unfortunately produces rifts and tensions in the Catholic community in China.”
The Vatican also said in the statement that those bishops who took part in the ordination of Lei Shiyin “exposed themselves to serious canonical sanctions,” and, in the absence of mitigating circumstances, may possibly be excommunicated as well.
The statement noted, “an episcopal ordination without papal mandate is directly opposed to the spiritual role of the Supreme Pontiff and damages the unity of the Church. If the church in China wants to be Catholic, it must respect the doctrine and discipline of the Church.”
Expression of regret
A statement issued by China’s state run church expressed regret at the decision of the Holy See and said, “It will bring more disputes to all churches and will affect the spread of the Gospel and church development.”
Despite the statement, there are rumors that another priest may be illicitly ordained on July 14 in Shantou diocese.
China ended relations with the Vaticanin 1951 when the Communists took over the country.
In 2007, the Vatican reached out to China when the country opened up its economy, in hopes that the government would protect religious freedom.