On Sunday, April 30 in Kunming (Yunnan), the Patriotic Association (P.A.) – and in particular its vice-president, layman Anthony Liu Bainian – wants at all costs to ordain a priest as bishop without the Holy See’s permission. Over the last two years, Beijing and the Vatican had arrived at an agreement which left it to Rome to indicate candidates for the episcopacy. Accordingly, auxiliary bishops of Shanghai, Xian, Wanxian and the ordinary of Suzhou were ordained. This agreement had put to the side the P.A., which for decades had held the reigns of ordinations, weakening its power over the official Church. This time however, the Patriotic Association is not standing by and has decided to have Father Ma Yinglin ordained as Bishop of Kunming (capital of Yunnan).
This new ordination is creating many new problems for the Church and the government of China. The first is the ecclesial position of the candidate who thus finds himself in de facto breach of ecclesial communion (latae sentientiae excommunication, “by the very commission of the offence”). As things currently stand, Chinese Catholics reject a bishop if he is not in communion with the Vatican and do not take part in his functions, preferring to swell the ranks of the underground Church. Plus, such a challenge by the AP shines a bad light on the government, which thus appears to be driven by mid-level authorities and their anti-Holy See expressions, while top officials – at least over this last year – have been engaging in signs of détente and dialogue with the Vatican.
The Chinese Patriotic Association wants to save itself before the party higher-ups decide to give the Holy See what it wants in order to get them to move from Taiwan to Beijing...
That's funny, really. It's true in all bureaucracies, but especially communist ones that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing and then tries to sabotage it before the right hand amputates the left hand and grafts on a new one. Duplicity insinuates itself everywhere.
Let the Patriotic Association ordain Father Ma against the wishes of the Holy See and Father Ma himself. They can all take plane rides to Manchuria one day and inexplicably disappear into the northern mountains, never to be seen again. (I know, I know, they don't do that anymore, it's just house arrest...)