Saturday, December 02, 2006

On the Chinese Episcopal Ordinations...

There's quite a forthright press release from the Vatican about the latest illegtimate Episcopal Ordinations in China. My rough translation:
Communication Concerning the Illegitimate Episcopal Ordination at Xuzhou (Continental China)
The Holy See feels obliged to make known its position concerning the Episcopal ordination of the priest Giovanni Wang Renlei which took place Thursday 30 November in Xuzhou, in the province of Jiangsu (Continental China).
1. The Holy Father received the news with much sorrow because the said episcopal ordination was conferred without pontifical mandate, that is without respecting the discipline of the Catholic Church regarding the nomination of bishops. (cf CIC 377, 1)
2.This ordination is the latest one of the illegal Episcopal ordinations which have tormented the Catholic Church in China for decades, creating divisions in day as communities and tormenting the consciences of many clerics and laypeople. This series of extremely greve acts, which offends the religious sentiments of every Catholic in China and in the rest of the world, is the fruit and consequence of a vision of the Church which does not correspond to Catholic doctrine and subverts fundamental principles of her hierarchical structure. Indeed, as the Second Vatican Council makes clear, "one is constituted a member of the episcopal body in virtue of sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with the Head and members of the body." (Lumen Gentium 22)
3. The Holy See, becoming aware at the last moment of the planned Episcopal ordination, did not neglect to take those steps possible in that brief period of time available to prevent an act which would produce a new laceration of ecclesial communion. Indeed, an illegitimate Episcopal ordination is an act so objectively grave that Canon Law lays down severe sanctions for those who confer and receive it, assuming that the act was completed in conditions of true freedom. (c.f. CIC 1382)
4. It is consoling to note that, despite past and present difficulties, almost the entirety of bishops, priests, religious and lay people in China, aware of being living members of the universal Church, have maintained a deep communion of faith and life with the Successor of Peter and with all the Catholic communities all over the world.
5. The Holy See is aware of the spiritual drama and of the suffering of those ecclesiastics - consecrating bishops and ordinands - will find themselves forced to take an active part in the illegitimate Episcopal ordinations, contravening in this way the Catholic tradition which in their hearts they wish to follow faithfully. It shares in the interior disturbance of those Catholics - priests, religious and laity - who see themselves obliged to welcome a pastor whom they know to be not in full hierarchical communion with neither the Head of the College of Bishops nor with the other bishops throughout the world.
6. Concerning Episcopal ordinations, the Holy See cannot accept being placed before already accomplished facts. Therefore, it deplores the manner in which the ordination of the priest Wang Renlei went ahead in Xuzhou, and hopes that events of this kind will not repeat themselves in the future.

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