Foreign and Military Affairs

China protests Vatican's refusal of bishops

Updated: 2011-07-26 07:33

(China Daily)

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BEIJING - China's religious affairs administration denounced the Vatican's excommunication of two Chinese Catholic bishops, saying the decision was "extremely unreasonable and rude".

The bishops were ordained by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association to ensure the better management of the church and the spreading of the Gospel, the State Administration for Religious Affairs said in a statement issued on Monday.

Yang Yu, a spokesman for the association, declined to comment on the matter.

The excommunications have severely hurt the feelings of Chinese Catholics and saddened members of that church, the statement said.

China's Catholic Church has already chosen four bishops this year.

The latest two - who were excommunicated - were Lei Shiyin, who was ordained on June 29 in Leshan, a city in Sichuan province; and Joseph Huang Bingzhang, who was ordained on July 14 in Shantou, a city in Guangdong province.

Upon excommunicating them, the Vatican said their ordinations had been approved without papal agreement and were therefore "illicit".

The administration, for its part, insisted they were approved to ensure the church was brought under better management and the Gospel spread more widely.

"The majority of priests and believers will more resolutely choose the path of independently selecting and ordaining bishops, and the government will continue to support and encourage the practice," said the administration in the statement.

The Chinese government is willing to try to improve Sino-Vatican relations through talks, it said.

"If the Vatican is sincere about improving relations, it should rescind the so-called 'excommunications', and return to the correct path of holding talks," the statement said.

Chinese Catholics have been selecting and ordaining bishops on their own since 1958, when they cut economic and political relations with the Vatican.

That same decade, the Vatican threatened Chinese Catholics with excommunication. The statement called that incident a "historical scar" that has compelled China's Catholic Church to firmly adhere to its policy of ordaining its own bishops.

"History has proven that the Chinese Catholic Church will not stand still because of threats from the Vatican", and "the majority of priests and believers will more resolutely choose the path of independently selecting and ordaining bishops", it said.

The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association told China Daily earlier that China will ordain more bishops when "the conditions are right". Almost half of the 97 dioceses in China are without a spiritual leader.


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