Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Totus Tuus

That picture is so bad...

Today in the mail, I received my complimentary issue of Totus Tuus issue number 1. The magazine is 'the Postulation's monthly magazine of the Beatification and Canonization Cause of the Servant of God John Paul II'.

In case you can't tell, that's the front cover. It is on its side, turned 90 degrees to the right. At the end of 'Tuus' is a picture of JP reading. At the botton left (in the picture) is JP sitting holding a crucifix to his head.

A quote:

I am actually a Hindu

Today I read the story of the French Nun who was supposedly cured of Parkinsn's by praying to the late Pope. I am not Christian or Cathlic, I am actually a Hindu but I am riveted about the stories of Christ. In the artiche on Cnn.com it was written that you could e-mail requesting a relic of the late Pope. I understand that I am not Christian, therefore if you decide not to I am fine with That. I love my religion and have no thoughts of convertine but i qould be honored if I would be gifted with a thread from his cassock (this is what the artiche said you give).

Saturday, May 20, 2006

On this date...

...1,681 years ago, the First Council of Nicaea opened.

It was at this council where Emperor Constantine suppressed the Feminine Mystique form of Christianity in favor of the Pauline version. Or something. I haven't read THAT BOOK THAT SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS, so I don't know all the pseudo-historical/quasi-fictional details.

IN REALITY, the Council was called to do something about Arianism and a few other things as well. One of the end results was the Nicene Creed in its earliest form.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A little tidbit to consider

The Washington Post's article a few days ago on Bishop Wuerl's move to DC had this little tidbit:

Wuerl will be installed June 22 as the sixth archbishop of Washington, a position that traditionally puts him in line to become a cardinal.

Since the consistory, one cardinal has died, but he was over 80. A cardinal-elector is going to have to die or have an 80th birthday between now and next year for Bishop Wuerl to get a red hat (if the Holy Father sticks to the 120 limit). That shouldn't be a problem, as I count ten cardinals who will turn 80 between now and the end of next March.

Looking at the birthdays though, there is a trend to be seen. As time goes on, fewer and fewer cardinals will be turning 80 every year. If Benedict appoints younger men (Wuerl for instance is only 65) to the college, yearly consistories for cardinatial installations (barring death) to keep the number of electors up at 120 would become unnecessary. Of course, Benedict's intention to get everyone together and chat would be reason enough to hold a consistory...

In case you missed it

The hammer dropped on Father Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ.

The communique

We covered this quite a bit last summer back in May and June. Check back in the archives at the left for some history on the subject if you're not familiar with all that went on.

The meeting with Metropolitan Kirill

Little actual detail is in the news today. They didn't discuss Benedict possibly going to Moscow, but rather the ongoing cooperation between Rome and Moscow on 'ways to protect Christian values in Europe' (Interfax).

As it stands, I wasn't expecting much else from the meeting. If Benedict is going to get anywhere fast with the Orthodox, it's going to have to be with the Patriarch of Constantinople first. Eventually, the Russians will have to fall in line (probably kicking and screaming) if and when serious progress is made with Constantinople or else face isolation.

This queen didn't wear white

Queen Margrethe II and Pope Benedict XVI (Reuters)

That little gap in her outer jacket is kind of risque though...

But at least her skirt made it well past her knees.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Metropolitan Kirill is in Rome

The Meeting is today.

VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2006 (VIS) - This evening in the Vatican, Benedict XVI will receive in audience Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, president of the Department for Foreign Ecclesiastical Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow.

Following the audience, due to take place at 6 p.m., the Orthodox representative will attend a concert given by the choir of Moscow's Sretenskiy Monastery in the Auditorium in Via della Conciliazione near the Vatican. The concert marks the consecration of the first Russian Orthodox church in Rome, dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, which is due to take place tomorrow.
Interfax has the usual spiel about good relations, but many differences.

Reaction from the meeting will of course be forthcoming.


I heard THAT MOVIE/BOOK THAT SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS bombed at Cannes. Tom Hanks' performance was wooden and stodgy, etc.

If the rumors are true, was there any doubt? Even with Tom Hanks and Ron Howard, Ian McKellan and that cute girl from 'Amelie', even with the international phenonemon of the BOOK THAT SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS, the law of movie-making that says that popular books shall become bad movies still applies.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

While it's in front of me

Independent Ordination of Bishops Right Path for China

I'm not even going to bother to pick out all the cool quotes in that. It's a great piece of propaganda with facts and figures that would leave you feeling as if choosing bishops independently of Rome was the greatest idea since sliced bread...

From one post-communist state to another

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg in East Prussia) is coming to Italy to visit. It has been announced that during his visit, he will meet with His Holiness the Pope. Kirill will also consecrate the first Russian Orthodox church to be built in Rome. The metropolitan is the head of foreign church relations of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Pravda (good God, I'm linking to PRAVDA!) | Interfax Religion

We shall see what comes of this: bold statements or recriminations.

In other news, the synod of bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are meeting in San Francisco.

It is expected to adopt an Act on Canonical Community with the Patriarchate of Moscow. The 4th All-Diaspora Council adopted earlier two resolutions, one of the devoted to the reunification of the two parts of the Russian Church.

At the same time, decisions falling outside the competency of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will be made in concord with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Local and Bishops' Councils of Moscow Patriarchate will be the highest instance of ecclesiastical authority and the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will be their members.

The reunification comes after 80 yesrs of separation when the Whites fled Mother Russia at the communist take-over. The ROCOR developed as the Russian Orthodox Church came under the thumb of the Soviets.
Interfax Religion

(In case you aren't aware, Pravda, which is 'truth' in Russian, was once the primary newspaper of the Soviet Union and one of its principal propaganda organs.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

McCarrick's out, Wuerl's in


VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh, U.S.A., as metropolitan archbishop of Washington (area 5,447, population 2,630,894, Catholics 578,796, priests 1,166, permanent deacons 187, religious 1,677), U.S.A. The archbishop-elect was born in Pittsburgh in 1940, he was ordained a priest in 1966 and consecrated a bishop in 1986. He succeeds Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

After all the speculation and false starts when it came to Bishop Wuerl moving on up the ladder from Pittsburgh, he finally goes to replace the beloved (in some circles) Theodore.

I'm sure Rocco's all over this.

Monday, May 15, 2006


The Communist Chinese have now installed a third bishop who has not the approval of the Holy See. I think it's safe to say that the little thawing of relations over the last year is over. My first thought was that the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association was behind all this, but three bishops is two too many unless the Party is on board with what's going on. As I noted last time, the Communist Party is full of technocrats who are interested in stability above all things. If capitalism gives them stability, fine. If playing games with the Holy See gives them stability, great.

I think the Party decided the benefits of the Holy See moving the nunciature from Taipei to Beijing are outweighed by the benefits of keeping a stranglehold on the official Church in mainland China. The question of course is will this backfire on them and simply lead to an even greater move to the underground Church? I think that goes without saying that yes it will.

Yesterday at Mass in the bulletin was a pamphlet printed by 'Our Sunday Visitor'. It was a rather informative debunking of THAT BOOK/MOVIE THAT SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS. With massive excerpts from Amy Welborn, debunker extraordinare, the pamphlet was educational. If anyone sat down to read it, I think they'll have come away with a basic understanding of all that is wrong with THAT BOOK/MOVIE THAT SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS. Kudos to Amy once more for her hard work.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Floating around out there

Polish TV bans sex for papal visit | ANSA

According to Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, TVP is determined to avoid anything which might distract viewers' attention and sully coverage of Benedict's May 25-28 visit to Poland.

This thing with Poland illustrates an interesting point about the United States that I would just like to observe. If/when Benedict makes it to the US, I can hardly see the networks and cable channels doing anything at all like that. But at the same time, is the US as liberal as Poland in allowing on TV a soccer advertisement with a couple having sex? We have a lot of commercials that certainly push the envelope as far as nudity and such, but I don't recall the last time I saw a commercial with sex or implied sex. I guess we're not as crass and commercialistic as we seem?

Moving on... CHINA WATCH

The Vatican's China problem by Seth Faison | LA Times

Faison offers an interesting look at the history of relations between the Holy See and the People's Republic. One passage explains Rome's support for the Republic of China/Taiwan:

Their tortured relationship started off on the wrong foot, then deteriorated. The Vatican was a strong supporter of Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek, a practicing Christian. Like the United States, the Vatican was unable to accept the possibility of a Communist victory in China, so when it actually happened, Rome lived in denial, stubbornly insisting that Taiwan was the true government of the mainland.

It's important to remember that Taiwan really didn't become a real democracy until recently. Before that, the legislative bodies were made up of old men who had been elected before 1949 and kept their seats for the duration of the emergency. The Holy See stayed with the Nationalists because their undemocratic government was ruled by a Christian and allowed religious freedom whereas the undemocratic government of the Communists was ruled by a psycho-dictator who sent Christians to languish in prisons.

Now of course, Taiwan is a functioning democracy with free and fair elections along with religious freedom and all that...

Vatican ties to remain intact | The China Post

A beleaguered Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now enjoying a welcome respite. China has ordained two bishops without Vatican consent, forcing the pope to excommunicate them and two priests who consecrated them. That effectively nipped in the bud the latest orchestrated move between China and the Holy See to normalize relations at the expense of Taiwan. Taipei's embassy in the Vatican City, the only one in the whole of Europe, has a new lease on life.

It is possible that China now considers its control over the Catholic faithful more important than its ties with the Holy See. The loss of control may have a domino effect. Islam in Xinjiang and Lamaism in Tibet and Inner Mongolia may get out of control. Beijing fears it may wind up losing control over all religions, which Mao Zedong professed as opium that poisons the Chinese people. That fear must have compelled China to call off an almost sewed-up deal with the Vatican.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Chinese summary

The People's Republic ordained another bishop. This one has the approval of the Holy See.

Analyzing the earlier two ordinations, Sandro Magister details the change in policy in Rome from silence and an 'it's our fault' mentality to 'it's the PRC making trouble, not us' one.

John Thavis of CNS has a summary of Benedict's 'first lap' with the communist Chinese.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday night notes

I'm feeling better and should be back tomorrow.

Today was confirmation day. Congratulations to the classes of St. Mary's and St. Patrick's here in Iowa City.

A brief thought from a conversation I had today via instant messenger:

China ordains some bishops, the Pope and Cardinal Zen react... They're [the PRC leadership] post-modern technocrats from the eastern tradition, they don't 'reason' as we do.

By the way, if anyone wants to talk, my AIM screen name is Sephiroth9611 (don't ask what it means, it's old).

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Holy See's reaction

From VIS:

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2006 (VIS) - The director of the Holy See Press Office, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, released the following declaration.

"I can inform you of the position of the Holy See regarding the episcopal ordination of the priests Joseph Ma Yinglin e Joseph Liu Xinhong, which took place, respectively, last Sunday, April 30, in Kunming (province of Yunnan) and Wednesday, May 3, in Wuhu (province of Anhui).

The Holy Father has learned of the news with profound displeasure, since an act so relevant for the life of the Church, such as an episcopal ordination, has been carried out in both cases without respecting the requirements of communion with the Pope.

It is a grave wound to the unity of the Church, for which severe canonical sanctions, as it is known, are foreseen (cfr. canon 1382 from the Code of Canon Law).

According to the information received, bishops and priests have been subjected to - on the part of external entities to the Church - strong pressures and to threats, so that they would take part in the episcopal ordinations which, being without pontifical mandate, are illegitimate and, besides, contrary to their conscience. Various prelates have given a refusal to similar pressures, while others were not able to do anything but submit with great interior suffering. Episodes of this kind produce lacerations not only in the Catholic community but also in the internal conscience itself.

We are therefore facing a grave violation of religious liberty, notwithstanding that it is sought to present the two episcopal ordinations as a proper act to provide the pastors for vacant dioceses.

The Holy See follows with attention the troubled path of the Catholic Church in China and even aware of some particularities of such a path, believed and hoped that similar, deplorable episodes by now would belong to the past.

She considers that now it is her precise duty to give voice to the suffering of the entire Catholic Church, in particular to that of the Catholic community in China and especially to that of those bishops and priests who were seen obligated, against conscience, to take part or to participate in the episcopal ordination, of which, neither the candidates or the consecrating bishops want to carry out without having received the pontifical mandate.

If the news is true that other episcopal ordinations are to take place in the same manner, the Holy See would like to underline the need for respect for the liberty of the Church and for the autonomy of its institutions from whatever external interference, and sincerely wishes that such unacceptable acts of violence and inadmissible constrictions are not repeated.

The Holy See has, on various occasions, stressed her willingness for honest and constructive dialogue with the competent Chinese authorities for the purpose of finding a solution that would satisfy the needs of both parties.

Initiatives such as the above mentioned do not favor such dialogue but instead create new obstacles against it."

The Holy See seems to be giving the first ordinand, Father Ma, and others like him an out as far as being pressured into ordination and being pressured into participating in the two ordinations so far. I have not read any reports on if the second one was willing to be ordained or not.

We'll see what happens today and tomorrow. I should be feeling better by then, so we'll have a comprehensive update.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm not feeling very well

Lethargy, headachy, you all know the drill, I'm sure. I'm better than last night, but in any case, I'll post tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

China, again

China to defy Rome, ordain second bishop in days | Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is poised to appoint another bishop to its state-run Catholic Church despite Vatican disapproval, escalating tensions with the Holy See as the two sides vie for influence over Chinese church affairs.

A priest in the Communist Party-approved church in the central province of Anhui is to be consecrated bishop of the province, a vice chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, Liu Bainian, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Liu Xinhong's appointment is opposed by the Vatican, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday.

Zen told the Hong Kong newspaper that the string of bishops promoted without Vatican approval suggested the state-run Patriotic Association was attempting to derail expanding dialogue between Beijing and the Vatican.

In the meantime, Cardinal Zen is of the opinion that the Holy See should halt plans for further talks with the People's Republic.

Cardinal: Vatican Should Stop China Talks

"There must be some explanation from the government before going on with the talks," he said.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post published Tuesday, he said the Sino-Vatican dialogue "cannot continue because people will think we are prepared to surrender. We cannot budge. When you brutally place such a fait accompli, how can you call this dialogue?"

China's Foreign Ministry issued a statement Tuesday defending the official church's right to ordain bishops without Vatican input and calling the Holy See's criticism of such appointments "groundless."

The Chinese church's vice chairman, Liu Bainian, said he believed the Vatican would not oppose Liu Xinhong's ordainment Wednesday but stressed Beijing had no diplomatic channels to communicate with the Holy See.

"We believe the pope will not disagree. We have not considered whether this ordainment will bring negative consequences on Sino-Vatican relations," Liu Bainian told Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK.

Zen said he doubts the Chinese government is fully behind the push to defy the Vatican and appoint new bishops. He said it was a bid by Liu Bainian and the official church to exercise power they will lose when Sino-Vatican ties are restored.

"I doubt that it comes from the top of the leadership," Zen said. "I don't think they would do such insensitive things."

Asis News has background on the candidate for this second ordination:

The candidate for the new illegal ordination is Fr Liu Xinhong, a diocesan administrator, ordained to the priesthood in 1990 after having studied theology at Shanghai’s official seminary. He is known by local Catholics as being “very close to the government.” In February, the Vatican had denied approval for his episcopal ordination. According to local sources, Fr Liu had accepted the Vatican’s decision; instead, now, he is agreeing to go through with the ceremony. This change of heart arrives just two days after another illegal ordination, carried out against the Vatican’s wishes, which took place in Kunming April 30. AsiaNews source in Anhui say that Catholics do not know whether the Vatican has approved or not the ordination, but that the Patriotic Association is giving it much publicity and is pressuring people to take part in the ceremony. The ordaining bishop prelate will be Monsignor Wu Shizhen, Archbishop of the Nanchang diocese (Jiangxi). While priests, nuns and laypeople of the official Church are preparing the ceremony in the Saint Joseph Cathedral of Wuhu, members of the underground Church are spreading the news that the ordination is illicit, not having been mandated by the Holy See.

Asia News also has follow-up on the Father Ma ordination.

During the ceremony, Fr Ma, said he "felt inadequate in shouldering the task", adding that he wanted to "follow Saint Peter's teaching to be subject to every human institution for the Lord's sake". Thus he intends to "lead all priests, nuns, seminarians and lay Catholics in the diocese to obey the national constitution, to maintain the unification of the country and solidarity of the society, and to contribute to the building of an affluent society and the building of a harmonious socialist country".

Fr Ma is one of the three Catholic representatives who are members of the National People’s Congress, the Chinese parliament. According to the Code of Canon Law, his political commitment is incompatible with his episcopal appointment.

After all that, I think it's safe to say that for the moment, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Assocation has successfully derailed the talks between the PRC and the Holy See. The ulterior motive seems to be to reassert the CPA's power in the face of growing influence from Rome. But that doesn't necessarily explain why the Communist Party leadership is allowing it. I made the point and Cardinal Zen made the same point that the CPA wants to end the talks, but with a second ordination in the offing, we have to remember the fact that this is mainland communist China, a totalitarian state that has no qualms about making people disappear into the Bamboo Gulag.

A hypothesis I just considered is this: Benedict XVI and now his point man, Cardinal Zen, are proving to be not as pliable as the PRC would have liked. Perhaps the PRC is using the Patriotic Association to drive the wedge and break off talks without directly exposing the government to this loss of face...

Who knows! We'll see what else they do in the coming days.

Monday, May 01, 2006

By the way...

My opening statement from a year ago along with stuff from that first month may be of interest as we note the first year of Vatican Watcher.

Thanks for reading.

A ha!

As long as the Holy See realizes, I'm not so afraid it will stick its foot in its mouth on the condom issue. From Catholic News Service:

The sources said there were strong arguments for allowing married couples in which one spouse is infected with HIV, which causes AIDS, to use condoms as a disease-preventing measure, when it overrides any contraceptive intent.

On the other hand, the sources said, the Vatican is hesitant to make any move that would be seen as an endorsement of condoms as a method of disease prevention, because condoms do not offer 100 percent protection from AIDS and could encourage sexual promiscuity.

Also, from Catholic World News: World Catholic population at 1.098 billion (that's 1,098,000,000 or around 1/6 of the world's population).

Also, I received my copy of the Compendium last Friday after ordering it back in January.

Sainthood for the collaborator!?

In case you're freaking out, I am not one of those believes that Pope Pius XII turned a blind eye to the plight of the Jews. From all the evidence I've seen, his activities were quite the contrary.

As ANSA reports, his cause could be moving forward by the summer when theologians report back.

From CNS:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII coming up in two years, supporters of his sainthood cause are growing a little impatient.

They're also growing older. The generation of church people who lived and worked with Pope Pius is quietly passing from the scene.

"Pius XII must be declared a saint! Admiration isn't enough -- people need to get moving!" [Fiorenzo Cardinal Angelini] said to applause from the packed auditorium.

"Too much time has already passed," [Cardinal Angelini] said.

As much as I sympathize with them being impatient, I would hope that the cause of Pius XII is not based solely on his partisans and collaborators. After all, a saint ought to speak to the ages, not just his close associates... As for the lengthy wait, at least they all can take solace in the fact that Pius XII isn't getting any older...

Mon Cherie

In case you didn't already know, Cherie Blair, the wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, etc. etc. visited Rome the other day and was received in a private audience by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Supreme Pontiff, Bishop of Rome, etc. etc.

Mrs. Blair and the Pope last Friday

Mrs. Blair was a speaker at the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences conference that has as its topic the youth of the world. In her private audience, Mrs. Blair as we can see was wearing white. The reaction from certain quarters has been less than pleased (from the Telegraph):

Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory minister and a convert to Catholicism, was scathing about Mrs Blair.

"Even the Queen wore black to meet the Pope," she said. "This shows that she has a very grand idea of herself.

"She is a Catholic. She knows what the tradition is when meeting the Pope.

"She obviously thinks she is the first lady.

"My message to her is 'You are not a Catholic Queen, my dear, and you never will be.' "

The former Tory minister was referring to the tradition that only Catholic Queens may exercise the privilege of wearing white in the presence of the Holy Father. All others are bound by tradition to wear black and a mantilla.

Technically, only three women should wear white in the presence of the Pope.

They are Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Paola of Belgium and Josephine Charlotte, the wife of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg. Queen Sofia exercised her privilege in a meeting with the previous Pope in 2003.

As is mentioned above in the other excerpt, when the Queen of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, etc. etc. met the pope, she wore black since she wasn't Catholic.

The photo op... Is B16 tanned or what?

Perhaps Mrs. Blair didn't have time to change?

She was invited as an expert and remained afterwards for a private meeting with the Pope. A spokesman for the Vatican declined to reveal what they had discussed.

She flew to Rome to speak at the conference and was only planning a day trip. She did not anticipate being invited to meet Benedict XVI and thus did not have along a change of clothing. Who knows?

What I want to know is if she had on a knee-length-or-longer skirt.

EDIT: See, I think I'm right on this. From Zenit:

In a press statement, the United Kingdom's ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, said that the meeting between the two was a surprise for Blair, and that she was "thrilled" by the unexpected conversation, which took place in the Pope's library.

Mrs. Blair gets her out and shouldn't be treated harshly for not turning down the pope by saying, 'I don't have a black outfit'. But next time, she had better know better.

Photos: 1) AP, 2) Reuters (both provided by L'Osservatore Romano)

Father Ma, welcome to episcopal la-la land

Essentially, Father Ma got ordained despite all the hesitation by Chinese Catholics and Father Ma himself. This ordination flew in the face of the wishes of the Holy See. Statements in support of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association by the PRC foreign ministry seem to cast some doubt on the theory that this is simply CPA officials trying to retain their power base (see the final news excerpt for that theory). Still, I don't think that the senior communist leadership can be seriously supporting this. The People's Republic is schizophrenic, but it's not that schizophrenic to have spent the last year courting the Holy See but to now decide to sabotage such courting.

Let's pray for illict Bishop Ma and the other bishops who participated who have now excommunicated themselves.

Various news stories:

China defies Vatican, ordains bishop | Catholic World News

Liu Bainian, the vice-president of the Patriotic Association, has been particularly aggressive in promoting the role of the government-backed group, and denouncing any "foreign influence" from the Holy See. After the April 30 ceremony he told reporters that the Vatican's view on the ordination was irrelevant, since "the Vatican and China don't have diplomatic relations."

China's foreign ministry, in a public statement released after the ceremony, claimed that public support for the episcopal ordination was "unanimous," and Vatican objections were "groundless."

China defies Pope by ordaining bishop | Financial Times

In the days preceding Father Ma’s ordination, there was intense jockeying behind the scenes as both the CPA and the Vatican lobbied other Chinese bishops. According to church sources, the CPA originally asked Bishop Jin Peixian of Shenyang to preside at Father Ma’s consecration, but he withdrew.

Bishop Dong Guangqing of Hankou, in Hubei province, was recruited to replace Bishop Jin as lead-celebrant. Co-celebrants at Sunday’s ceremony included Bishop Fang Xingyao of Linyi, in Shandong province.

Illustrating the complex overlap between China’s official and underground churches, both Bishop Dong and Bishop Fang are recognised by the Vatican. They now face excommunication for presiding over what the Holy See regards to be an illicit consecration, unless Pope Benedict XVI deems that they were forced to participate against their will. “It will be up to the Pope to decide [their fates],” a church source said. “They were all put under immense pressure by the CPA to do this.”

There are only about a dozen priests working in Yunnan and many of the Catholics there are members of the province’s minority communities. The area was last administered by a French bishop before China’s communist revolution. The CPA attempted to install another bishop in the 1980s, but his flock rioted and drove him out of the cathedral.

Card. Zen: “Suspend ordination of Kunming bishop” | Asia News

This new ordination would create many new problems for the Church and the government of China. The first is the ecclesial position of the candidate who is automatically outside ecclesial communion (latae sentientiae excommunication). Nowadays, Chinese Catholics reject a bishop if he is not approved by 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 PA 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.