January 12, 2000
volume 11, no. 8
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Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


    BEIJING (FIDES/ -- The carefully orchestrated ordinations of new bishops for the Patriotic Catholic Association, planned by the Chinese government as an act of defiance toward Rome, were actually a "washout," according to sources inside the Beijing cited by the FIDES news agency.

    The government had planned the ordination of 12 bishops, to take place on January 6, to mimic the ordination of 12 bishops by Pope John Paul II which took place at the Vatican on that same day. But only 5 Chinese clergymen accepted episcopal ordination. And the ceremony which took place at Immaculate Conception Church in Nantang, Beijing-- at 7 o'clock in the morning-- has widened the gap between the "underground" Catholics who remain loyal to Rome and the government-approved leadership of the Patriotic Association.

    Without exception, the 130 seminarians enrolled in the national seminary in Beijing refused to attend the episcopal ordinations, Fides reported. After attending compulsory rehearsals, the students voted to boycott the ceremony. They issued a statement saying that "the so-called ordination is against the principles of the faith and against the Catholic Church."

    After relaying that statement to the leaders of the Patriotic Association, the seminary students confided to a Fides source that they now fear "pressure and even persecution" from the government. They issued an appeal to the West: "Please pray for us and for the universal Church in solidarity with us."

2) Sources in Beijing say that no more than 200 people attended the ceremony at the Nantang cathedral, whereas an ordinary Sunday Mass in the same building regularly draws at least 400 people. At other times, priestly ordinations have been attended by thousands of Catholic faithful. One Fides source who attended the ceremony said that the atmosphere was somber-- like that of a funeral rather than an ordination.

    The tension surrounding the ceremony was made manifest in the behavior of the participants, which the Fides source described as "remote and passive." Just before the consecration, one cleric tripped, spilling the chalice of wine.

3) Seven bishops of the Patriotic Church ordained the new episcopal candidates. They were Bishops Liu Yliu Yuanren of Nanjing, Fu Tieshan of Beijing, Tu Shihua of Hanyang, Jian Taoran of Shijiazhuang, Yu Chengcai of Haimen, Luo Juan of Shuoxian, and Jinghe of Tangshan. None of those bishops have any relations with the Holy See. Other bishops, who had been under pressure to participate in the ceremony, did not appear.

4) The five newly ordained bishops were all reportedly under heavy pressure to accept episcopal ordination-- pressure which seven other nominees had resisted. One of the younger candidates admitted to an acquaintance, "the pressure was strong, and I am weak."

5) Among the mainland Chinese bishops who remain in communion with Rome, none would issue a public comment on the new ordinations. However, Bishop Joseph Zen Nekiun of Hong Kong observed that the ordinations fall neatly into the plans set forth by the Chinese government in a new secret document calling for stricter Communist Party control of the Catholic Church and the Chinese bishops. Those government plans were contained in a secret document which was made public by Fides in November 1999.


January 12, 2000
volume 10, no. 8

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