The Vatican has issued a statement noting that Father Joseph Huang Bingzhang, the latest bishop to be illicitly ordained in China, will face excommunication.
“The Reverend Joseph Huang Bingzhang, having been ordained without papal mandate and hence illicitly, has incurred the sanctions laid down by canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law,” the Vatican said in its July 16 statement.
“Consequently, the Holy See does not recognize him as Bishop of the Diocese of Shantou, and he lacks authority to govern the Catholic community of the Diocese.”
Canon 1382 of the Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law states both a bishop who “without a pontifical mandate, consecrates a person as Bishop, and the one who receives the consecration from him, incur a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.”
Fr. Huang Bingzhang’s ordination as bishop of Shantou in China’s southern Guangdong province took place July 14.
According to UCA News, the ceremony took place in Shantou City’s St. Joseph’s Cathedral before an estimated congregation of 1,000. Bishop Johan Fang Xingyao of Linyin, the president of the government-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, was the main celebrant.
The Vatican statement recalled that Fr. Huang Bingzhang had previously been “asked on numerous occasions not to accept episcopal ordination.” The Diocese of Shantou currently has a Vatican-approved bishop.
The statement noted that the Vatican “had knowledge of the fact that some Bishops, contacted by the civil authorities, had expressed their unwillingness to take part in an illicit ordination and also offered various forms of resistance, yet were reportedly obliged to take part in the ordination.”
The Vatican praised the resistance, adding that “(e)qual appreciation is also due to those priests, consecrated persons and members of the faithful who have defended their pastors, accompanying them by their prayers at this difficult time and sharing in their deep suffering.”
The July 14 ceremony is the third illicit ordination in nine months following one in Chendge diocese in November last year and another in Leshan last month. The Vatican recently excommunicated Fr. Paul Lei Shiyin, who was illicitly ordained as bishop of Leshan. They also warned other Catholic clerics who participated in the ordination that they also could face excommunication.
The backdrop to all these events is the continuing attempt by China’s communist regime to control all aspects of Chinese life, including the Catholic Church. The Chinese government created and continues to run the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which does not acknowledge the authority of the Pope.
The Vatican then emphasized the “right of Chinese Catholics to be able to act freely, following their consciences and remaining faithful to the Successor of Peter and in communion with the universal Church.
“The Holy Father, having learned of these events, once again deplores the manner in which the Church in China is being treated and hopes that the present difficulties can be overcome as soon as possible,” the statement concluded.