.- Following yesterday’s announcement of a second ordination--in the same week--of a Catholic bishop in China without consent from the Vatican, the Holy See has announced its profound condemnation and said that excommunication is now likely for the two illicit bishops as well as their consecrators.
Farther Joseph Ma Yinglin was consecrated bishop last Sunday in the province of Yunnan, while Fr. Joseph Liu Xinhong, was ordained to the province of Anhui on Wednesday.
In a statement, Holy See Press Office director Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that “the Holy Father has learned of the news with profound displeasure, since an act so relevant for the life of the Church, such as an episcopal ordination, has been carried out in both cases without respecting the requirements of communion with the Pope.”
He called the act “a grave wound to the unity of the Church, for which severe canonical sanctions, as it is known, are foreseen (cfr. canon 1382 from the Code of Canon Law).”
According to the current information received by the Vatican, “bishops and priests have been subjected to - on the part of external entities to the Church - strong pressures and to threats, so that they would take part in the episcopal ordinations which, being without pontifical mandate, are illegitimate and, besides, contrary to their conscience.”
“Various prelates”, Navarro-Valls pointed out, “have given a refusal to similar pressures, while others were not able to do anything but submit with great interior suffering. Episodes of this kind produce lacerations not only in the Catholic community but also in the internal conscience itself.”
He said that the Church now faces “a grave violation of religious liberty, notwithstanding that it is sought to present the two episcopal ordinations as a proper act to provide the pastors for vacant dioceses.”
The press director explained that for some time the Holy See has followed “with attention the troubled path of the Catholic Church in China and even aware of some particularities of such a path, believed and hoped that similar, deplorable episodes by now would belong to the past.”
“She considers that now it is her precise duty”, he continued, “to give voice to the suffering of the entire Catholic Church, in particular to that of the Catholic community in China and especially to that of those bishops and priests who were seen obligated, against conscience, to take part or to participate in the episcopal ordination, of which, neither the candidates or the consecrating bishops want to carry out without having received the pontifical mandate.”
Citing rumors of further episcopal ordinations, the Holy See asked for autonomy for the Chinese Chirch and expressed its wishes that “such unacceptable acts of violence and inadmissible constrictions are not repeated.”
Navarro-Valls pointed to the Church’s long-standing desire “for honest and constructive dialogue with the competent Chinese authorities for the purpose of finding a solution that would satisfy the needs of both parties,” but said that “initiatives such as the above mentioned do not favor such dialogue but instead create new obstacles against it."