Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sack China's bishops, cardinal tells Vatican

The Telegraph reported today that:

The leader of Hong Kong's Roman Catholics has called on the Pope to excommunicate China's state-appointed bishops, as relations between Beijing and the Holy See plunge to new lows.

China's state-run Church has ordained bishops in defiance of Rome, despite negotiations since the death of John-Paul II aimed at restoring diplomatic ties after more than half a century.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop of Hong Kong and one of the Church's key voices on Chinese issues, said that the time had come for the Vatican to take an uncompromising stance.

In the most recent case, at the end of November, the ordination went ahead despite a clear warning from the Holy See that it would be in breach of Canon Law.

"I think people in the underground Church and also in the good part of the official Church don't expect the Holy See to ratify this ordination easily, and they don't expect the Holy See to absolve these bishops from sanctions," he said.

Canon law calls for the excommunication of both those ordaining and being ordained if it is without Church approval. Cardinal Zen said that the Vatican had acted quickly to excommunicate Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the former archbishop of Lusaka who married and then conducted four ordinations of rebel bishops.

Mainland China has six million people worshipping in the state-backed Catholic Church, but the same number again or even more worship in underground churches loyal to Rome. They are frequently repressed, and a number of bishops remain in prison.

Until recently, a compromise held whereby the official Church would only elevate bishops after receiving an indication from Rome that the candidate had the Vatican's approval. But Cardinal Zen said this compromise had run its course.

Excommunicating bishops would mark a major break between the Vatican and the Chinese Church, which is regarded as estranged from but still "in communion" with the mainstream.

The complete story may be found here:


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