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January 21, 2000     The Catholic Mirror
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January 21, 2000

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! 1 2 The Catholic Mirror. ,Jan. 21. 2000 I i t Chinese church ordains five By John Thavis Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a move that appeared to aggravate China-Vatican divi- sions, the government-approved Chinese church ordained five new bishops without papal approval. The ordinations were per- formed Jan. 6 during a Mass in a Beijing cathedral, just hours before Pope John Paul II ordained 12 new bishops in St. Peter's Basilica. Church offi- cials in Rome said the timing was a deliberate provocation, and the Vatican expressed its "astonishment and disappoint- ment" at the act. "This decision comes at a time when voices have been raised in many parts which lead one to hope for a normalization ROUNDU of relations between the Holy See and Beijing," spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said. "But this gesture poses obstacles that certainly will hamper that process," he said. China's long-standing refusal to recognize the pope's right to appoint bishops has been one of the biggest obsta- cles in Chinese-Vatican rela- church news agency based in Thailand. Five additional bishops and 30 priests concelebrated the ordination Mass. All the bishops laid their hands on and embraced the newly ordained bishops. Bishop Fu told the congrega- tion that the ordinations reflect- ed China's prosperity and said the development of the church in China had to keep pace with the development of the country. The newly ordained were Bishops Peter Fang Jianping of Tangshan, 39; ]in Daoyuan of Changzhi, 71; Lu Xinping of Nanjing, 36; Su Changshan of Baoding, 74; and Zhan Silu of Mindong, 39. Bishop Zhan later told UCA News that the new bishops had pledged obedience to the pope during the ceremony -- a point the others did not confirm. He said the timing of the ordina- tions was not con- frontation- al. "We were ordained today because it is the Epiphany Day, a big feast day in the church. If it happens on the same day as the Vatican's ordinations, isn't it even better?" he said. The vice chairman of the patriotic association, Liu Bainian, told the Italian news bishops without Vatican the ordinations were an "act of confrontation" that shows that China has "no real intention of reconciling with the Vatican." UCA News reported. He said the ordinations con- form with an internal Communist Party memorandun~ that surfaced in 1999, which called for more ordinations of bishops chosen by secular oM- cials and further division of the underground and the state-sanc- tioned church. In Rome, the missionary news service MISNA said the "Chinese government, which once again lk~rces upon Catholics its desire for absolute control, is surely behind the decision of ordination." The Vatican missionary news agency Fides reported that the ordinations were a failure for the government and the patriotic association. It said nine of 12 original candidates refused to participate in the cer- emony because it was "'in clear competition with the Holy See." In addition, Fides said, more than 130 seminarians at the national seminary in Beijing decided to boycott the ordina- tion Mass after participating in a rehearsal the day belore. Fides said only one of the ordaining bishops had relations with the Vatican, and all of those ordained had "suffered extreme pressure" from Chinese authorities. tions and a major factor in the agency ANSA that the ordina- Italian Father Giancarlo Newly ordained bishops leave the Cathedral division between the Chinese tions were a sign of the church' s Politi, who follows Chinese underground church loyal to vitality, affairs as editor of the magazine Immaculate Conception in Beijing Jan. 6. Chinese Blsl Rome and the government-" "The Chinese church has Mondo e Missione (World and Liu Yuanren ordained five new state-approved bisho! Mission), said the ordinations defiance of Pope John Paul II, who alone ha= the autO, sanctioned Chinese Catholic bishops who are helping it pros- 1 as a wo i ome ' 'orn'm' g "ho ''n'hec uroh Some 300 people, a relative- world. So I think the pope toward greater government CNS photo from ly sparse crowd, attended the should be pleased," he said. He involvement in the bishop selec- ordinationsat Immaculate added that there would be more tion process and raise questions Association as valid because secretly reconciled with ordinations in the future about the eventual reconciliation they have been performed byand others would probably] because the average age of of the bishops with the Vatican, validly ordained bishops, but have too much problem tell Chinese bishops was too high. The pope made no mention of the new Chinese bishops during his annual ordination Mass at the Vatican. But veteran China- watchers said the Vatican saw the Chinese ceremony as an act of defiance at a sensitive moment in church-state relations. Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong said especially because three of the new bishops were so young. While China maintains that the election of bishops is a legit- imate function of the local church, in practice it is the gov- ernment and the Communist Party that control the selection of episcopal candidates, Father Politi said. The Vatican has viewed the ordinations of bishops of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Conception Cathedral. Among the congregation were represen- tatives of the Communist Party's religious affairs office. Bishop Liu Yuanren of Nanjing, president of the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China, was the ordaining bishop, with Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan of Beijing, chairman of the patriot- ic association, as co-ordainer, reported.UCA News, an Asian illicit because they are done without a papal mandate, Father Politi said. That leaves individual bishops in a diflicult position with the Holy See. But the Vatican has always avoided using the term "schism" to describe the situation in China, recognizing the politi- cal pressures involved, he said. Some Chinese bishops who belong to the government-sanc- tioned church are said to have ing a similar understandinq some point in the futurcJ especially older bishops have suffered strong politl1 pressure, Father Politi said. J "'What is alarming is these (new) bishops areal young and have !nude a ci~ that is at least somewhat Pl There hasn't been for them] kind of pressure or t'ear~ existed in lhe days of Mao (Jl tung)." hc said. m "The Catholic Connection" is a television program produced monthly by the Diocese of Des Moines. It can be found on these cable systems in Iowa and Nebraska: AT&T Cable Services (formerly TCI of Central Iowa) Cable Channel 17 in Des at 6:30 p.m. on Sundays and Tuesdays. j Harlan Newspapers TCI Cable Channel 18. third Monday at 7 p.m.; Harlan Municip! Cable Channel 25. the day following at 6 p.m. J Cox Cable Channel 21. in Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha. The program Wednesdays at 8 p.m. il ,i This month, a panel will discuss the biggest stories of the past year and a Io , at 2000. Next month, TBA. L