No matter what the motivation or how seriously threatened one may believe the Catholic Church in China is, the ordination of bishops without a mandate from the pope is a serious violation of Church law, the Vatican said.
‘In recent weeks, there has been a series of reports regarding some episcopal ordinations conferred without papal mandate of priests of the unofficial community of the Catholic Church in continental China,’ said a statement from Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office.
‘The Holy See has not authorised any ordination, nor has it been officially informed of such events,’ Burke said. ‘Should such episcopal ordinations have occurred, they would constitute a grave violation of canonical norms.’
In mid-October, ucanews.com, an Asian Catholic news agency, reported that ‘Fr Paul Dong Guanhua from Zhengding in northern Hebei province’ announced during a Mass in May that he had been ordained secretly as a bishop. In September, amid reports that the Vatican was holding talks with China’s communist government, Fr Dong began appearing in public dressed as a bishop, wearing a miter and carrying a pastoral staff.
Picture: China’s flag is seen as Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 15th June 2016. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).