Vatican refuses to recognise new Chinese bishop
TENSIONS BETWEEN the People’s Republic of China and the Catholic Church notched up several degrees yesterday when the Holy See underlined its refusal to recognise the newly ordained Bishop of Leshan, appointed just last week.
The Vatican has declined to recognise Father Lei Shiyin for at least three fundamental reasons.
Firstly, the ordination was prompted by Chinese state authorities and not by Pope Benedict XVI. Secondly, “Bishop” Shiyin is currently vice-chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the state body set up in 1951 by Chairman Mao Tse Tung as a means of controlling the Catholic Church in China but not recognized by the Vatican.
Thirdly, the Vatican argues there are “proven and very grave reasons” as to why Father Shiyin should not be ordained a bishop. In an unusually blunt statement yesterday, the Vatican spelt out its objections, commenting: “Rev. Lei Shiyin, ordained without the papal mandate and therefore illegitimately, has no authority to govern the diocesan Catholic community, and the Holy See does not recognise him as the Bishop of the diocese of Leshan.”
Writing on the website “Vatican Insider”, Asian church analyst Gerard O’Connell last week claimed the Vatican’s “proven and grave reasons” against the ordination concerned reports from “reliable sources” that Father Shiyin had been in a relationship with a woman, with whom he had fathered a child.
Father Shiyin is now almost certain to be excommunicated, under article 1382 of Canon Law.
The fate of the seven bishops who participated in his ordination last week is harder to predict, but they too risk excommunication.