Vatican City (AsiaNews): "The appointment of
bishops is not a political but religious matter." For this
reason, every episcopal ordination should take place by papal
mandate. Without it there is the no Catholic Church, and
"divisions, wounds and tensions are created within the Catholic
community in China." So says a note from the Congregation for
the Evangelization of Peoples issued today following reports
that an illicit episcopal ordination will take place in the city
of Harbin on July 6.
The ordination originally to have been held on 29 June did not
go ahead, raising hopes it would be canceled. But today growing
reports seem to confirm that the ordination will go ahead,
however, even though - according to Chinese sources - the
government is struggling to find the bishops who are willing to
consecrate the candidate.
The Vatican Note states that the candidate, Fr. Yue Fusheng, was
warned by the Holy See that he does not have papal approval and
therefore, if he agrees to be ordained, he risks excommunication
latae sententiae, as well as all participating bishops.
Here is the text of the Note:
Note of the Congregation for
the Evangelization of Peoples
Apostolic Administration of Harbin (PRC)
The Apostolic administration of Harbin
(Heilongjiang Province) is preparing for the ordination of Rev.
Joseph Yue Fusheng. In regard to this, please note the
1) An episcopal ordination, like the present, without papal
mandate is directly opposed to the Office, granted to Peter by
the Lord himself and his successors as Head of the College of
Bishops, Vicars of Christ and pastors of the Church Universal
and damages the unity of the Church and the whole work of
evangelization. As written by Holy Father Benedict XVI in his
Letter to Bishops, Priests, Consecrated People and Lay Faithful
of the Catholic Church in China (May 27, 2007, n. 9), "it is
understandable that governmental authorities are attentive to
the choice of those who will carry out the important role of
leading and shepherding the local Catholic communities, given
the social implications which - in China as in the rest of the
world - this function has in the civil sphere.
" But we must remember that "on the other hand,
the Holy See follows the appointment of Bishops with special
care since this touches the very heart of the life of the
Church, inasmuch as the appointment of Bishops by the Pope is
the guarantee of the unity of the Church and of hierarchical
communion. For this reason the Code of Canon Law (cf. c. 1382)
lays down grave sanctions both for the Bishop who freely confers
episcopal ordination without an apostolic mandate and for the
one who receives it: such an ordination in fact inflicts a
painful wound upon ecclesial communion and constitutes a grave
violation of canonical discipline.
The Pope, continues the Letter - when he issues
the apostolic mandate for the ordination of a Bishop, exercises
his supreme spiritual authority: this authority and this
intervention remain within the strictly religious sphere. It is
not, therefore, a question of a political authority, unduly
asserting itself in the internal affairs of a State and
offending against its sovereignty." Furthermore, the Holy Father
adds, " The appointment of Bishops for a particular religious
community is understood, also in international documents, as a
constitutive element of the full exercise of the right to
appointment of Bishops is a religious matter not political.
2) This episcopal ordination of Harbin will create confusion and
divisions among the Catholic community in China. The Catholic
community in Harbin does not want an unlawful episcopal
ordination. The survival and development of the Church can only
be done in union with the Roman Pontiff to Whom is entrusted the
Church herself, and not without His consent, as happens with
ordinations that, such as this, have no Papal mandate. If one
wants the Church in China to be Catholic, one must not proceed
episcopal ordinations that do not have the prior approval of the
3) Rev. Yue Fusheng was informed that he does not have papal
approval: his ordination is unlawful, he will lack the authority
to govern the diocesan Catholic community, and the Holy See will
not recognize him as the Bishop of Harbin.
For his possible illegitimate ordination he will
be subjected to the effects of the penalty incurred for
violation of the norm of canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law
(cf. Declaration of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
of June 6, 2011) .
4) The consecrating Bishops are exposing themselves to serious
canonical penalties prescribed by the law of the Church (in
particular by canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law).
5) The government Authorities were informed that the ordination
of Rev. Yue Fusheng is without the approval of the Holy Father.
It would contradict those signs of dialogue advocated by the
Chinese Party and the Holy See.
From the Vatican, July 3, 2012