综合罗马《信仰》社 (Fides) 与 Catholic
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EXCOMMUNICATION WARNING FOR CHINESE CATHOLICS
VATICAN (FIDES/CWNews.com) -- The Holy See has issued a stern warning to China regarding the illicit ordination of bishops for the government-controlled Patriotic Catholic Association.
In a statement released on Saturday, June 24, the Vatican has said that the ordination of bishops without papal authorization is "a painful wound to Church communion." The statement goes on to say that the "seriousness" of such an illicit episcopal ordination could merit the "severe sanctions" laid down by canon law.
The canonical penalty for an unauthorized episcopal ordination, as laid out in Canon 1382, is excommunication. That penalty could apply both to the bishop who is ordained and to the bishop(s) who perform the ordination. The excommunication would be "latae sententiae"-- that is, the penalty would be incurred automatically, requiring no official statement from the Vatican.
The Vatican statement expresses "surprise" that the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association would go through with a new episcopal ordination, at a time when the Beijing government is expressing a keen interest in improved relations with the Holy See. New ordinations for the Patriotic Church-- which does not recognize the authority of the Vatican-- would be a severe obstacle to improved relations, the Vatican observes.
The strong statement from the Vatican came shortly after the announcement that Father Matthew Cao would be ordained as a bishop for service to the Patriotic Church. That ceremony is reportedly set to take place in Zhejiang on Sunday, June 25.
The Vatican has repeatedly emphasized that no bishop should be ordained without the approval of the Holy See. The Patriotic Church has not sought such approval for the ordination of Father Cao. And none of the three bishops of the Patriotic Church who will reportedly perform the ordination-- Bishops Yu of Haimen, Wu of Nanchang, and Fu Tieshan of Beijing-- is recognized by the Holy See.
In January of this year, the officially sanctioned Chinese Church ordained five new bishops, in a controversial ceremony that took place in Nangtang cathedral. That ordination drew protests from other Chinese Catholics, who have continued to criticize the Patriotic Association for its hostility toward the Vatican.
According to the Fides news service, there are approximately 4 million Catholics active in the "official" Catholic churches of China-- which are, at least theoretically, controlled by the Patriotic Association. (In many cases, officially recognized parishes quietly maintain their ties to Rome.) Another 6 million Catholics worship with the "underground" Church, which remains loyal to the Holy See.