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Thursday, July 14, 2011

China 'Kidnaps' Bishops to Stage Catholic Ordination

China has ordained another bishop without the Pope's approval and allegedly kidnapped four bishops to witness the ceremony, in its fiercest act of defiance against the Vatican yet.

There are thought to be millions of "underground" Catholics in China who remain loyal to Rome Photo: REUTERS
From The Telegraph
By Malcolm Moore, Shanghai

In a three hour-long morning ceremony, China's government-run Catholic church ordained the Reverend Joseph Huang Bingzhang as the new bishop of the southern city of Shantou.

It is the third time in eight months that the Communist party - which insists that it, rather than the Pope, controls China's church - has appointed a bishop without a Papal mandate.

Thursday's ceremony was particularly controversial after four bishops loyal to the Vatican were taken away by Chinese police and allegedly forced to participate.
The Rt Revs Liang Jiansen, Liao Hongqing, Paul Su Yongda disappeared from their dioceses in Guangdong province on Sunday, while the Bishop of Guangzhou, the Rt Rev Joseph Junqi, has been missing for even longer.

According to AsiaNews, a Vatican news agency, one of the bishops was seen "sobbing as he was dragged away by government representatives".

An attendant at the church in Shantou confirmed that the "bishops from Guangdong province" had been present at the ordination.

Meanwhile the Rt Rev Paul Pei Junmin, who had been asked to be the principal celebrant at the ordination, was not present after holing up in Shenyang cathedral to avoid having to participate.

The ordination went ahead despite a last minute appeal to Hu Jintao, China's president, by Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former bishop of Hong Kong and a figurehead for China's Catholic church.

Cardinal Zen urged Mr Hu to restrain "rogue civil servants who violate the state Constitution, use violence to help the scum of the Church, and force mainland bishops, priests and laypeople to do things that go against their conscience." After the ordination, Lina Chan, the executive secretary of the Hong Kong diocese's Justice and Peace commission, said it regretted the "illicit ordination and the forced participation of the four bishops".

She added: "The Rt Rev Zhang Jianjian was appointed to be bishop of Shantou by the Vatican in 2006 but was not approved by the Chinese government. The government only wants bishops who are easy to control." The Vatican was furious over the ordinations of Guo Jincai in Chengde city in November and of Paul Lei Shiyin in Sichuan province just two weeks ago. It does not recognize them as bishops.

Beijing severed ties with the Holy See in 1951 after the Communist party came to power and set up its own church outside the Pope's authority. However, there are thought to be millions of "underground" Catholics in China who remain loyal to Rome.

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