China’s government-backed Catholic church will proceed with the ordination of a bishop who does not have the pope’s approval, despite objections raised by the Vatican. The Rev. Guo Jincai will be ordained in Chengde, in northeastern Hebei province, on Saturday, 20th Nov 2010. The ceremony is organized by Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
Communist China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, and worship is allowed only in state-backed churches, although millions of Chinese belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome. In recent years under Pope Benedict XVI relations have improved. Disputes over appointments in China’s official church have been avoided by quietly conferring on candidates, leading to several ordinations of bishops with the Holy See’s blessing.
However, Guo does not have the pope’s approval. The Vatican also said it was “disturbed by reports” that a number of bishops loyal to the pope are being forced by government officials to attend the ordination. It warned China that reconciliation efforts will be set back if the reports turned out to be true.
Liu said attendance by bishops at the ceremony would be voluntary and the ordination would go ahead as planned because the Chengde diocese needs a bishop. He said the association had informed the Vatican about its plan as early as two years ago. “A Catholic diocese cannot be without a bishop, or the Gospel cannot be spread,” Liu said. “We should not let any political reasons interfere with the spread of the Gospel in China.”
He said in time, China would elect bishops for more than 40 Catholic dioceses that are currently without them and expressed hope that the Vatican would endorse them. Liu maintained that the pope was “very friendly” to China but that some others in the Vatican were not. Recent estimates by scholars and church activists put the number of Chinese Catholics loyal to the pope as high as 60 million – three times the size of the official church.
Source: Washington Post