Watching the current affairs of the Catholic Church in China always leaves me a bit perplexed. For me, there is no easy way to understand such a complex situation. The day bishops were ordained by the government sponsored Church without the approval of the Holy Father. This is not a mere stepping on someone’s toes. It is the breaking of communion between the head and the body, between the Pope and a bishop. Catholics follow Saint Peter to Christ. Catholics faithful to the Faith thereby faithful to the Pope suffer for such obedience. In fact, Bishop Ma said the gathered people that he would not work with the government Church, his ministry was restricted. He went missing for a time following his ordination. See the Vatican Insider story here.

Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us.

What follows is the Vatican summary of what’s going on:

Bishop Ma Daqin.jpg

Following is the communique released this morning on the episcopal ordination of the Reverend Joseph Yue Fusheng in Harbin and the Reverend Thaddeus Ma Daqin as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Shanghai.

“With regard to the episcopal ordination of the Reverend Joseph Yue Fusheng, which took place in Harbin (Province of Heilongjiang) on Friday 6 July 2012, the following is stated:

1) The Reverend Joseph Yue Fusheng, ordained without pontifical mandate and hence illicitly, has automatically incurred the sanctions laid down by canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law. Consequently, the Holy See does not recognize him as Bishop of the Apostolic Administration of Harbin, and he lacks the authority to govern the priests and the Catholic community in the Province of Heilongjiang.

The Reverend Yue Fusheng had been informed some time ago that he could not be approved by the Holy See as an episcopal candidate, and on several occasions he had been asked not to accept episcopal ordination without the pontifical mandate.

2) The Bishops who took part in the illicit episcopal ordination and have exposed themselves to the sanctions laid down by the law of the Church, must give an account to the Holy See of their participation in that religious ceremony.

3) Appreciation is due to those priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful who prayed and fasted for a change of heart in the Reverend Yue Fusheng, for the holiness of the Bishops and for the unity of the Church in China, particularly in the Apostolic Administration of Harbin.

4) All Catholics in China, pastors, priests, consecrated persons, and lay faithful, are called to defend and safeguard that which pertains to the doctrine and tradition of the Church. Even amid the present difficulties, they look to the future with faith, comforted by the certainty that the Church is founded on the rock of Peter and his Successors.

5) The Apostolic See, trusting in the concrete willingness of the Government Authorities of China to dialogue with the Holy See, hopes that the said authorities will not encourage gestures contrary to such dialogue. Chinese Catholics also wish to see practical steps taken in this direction, the first among which is the avoidance of illicit celebrations and episcopal ordinations without pontifical mandate that cause division and bring suffering to the Catholic communities in China and the universal Church.

The ordination of the Reverend Thaddeus Ma Daqin as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Shanghai on Saturday 7 July 2012 is encouraging and is to be welcomed. The presence of a bishop who is not in communion with the Holy Father was inappropriate and shows a lack of consideration for a lawful episcopal ordination“.