Pope declares diplomatic war with China

Benedict XVI has expressed his "profound displeasure" at two unauthorised episcopal ordinations of Chinese priests and warns that such actions could jeopardise relations between Beijing and the Vatican.

Vatican spokesman, Dr Joaquin Navarro-Valls, said in a statement released yesterday that the episcopal ordinations, "without pontifical mandate, are illegitimate" and contrary to the consciences of those participating in the ceremony.

The unauthorised ordination of Joseph Liu Xinhong took place two days ago in Wuhu (province of Anhui) and follows the ordination of Joseph Ma Yinglin that took place in Kunming (province of Yunnan) last Sunday.

Dr Navarro-Valls said that bishops and priests who took part in the episcopal ordinations have been subjected to strong pressures and to threats from "external entities to the Church" so that they would take part in the ceremony.

"It is a grave wound to the unity of the Church, for which severe canonical sanctions, as it is known, are foreseen," he said. "Episodes of this kind produce lacerations not only in the Catholic community but also in the internal conscience itself."

He said that the Vatican is very concerned about news that other episcopal ordinations are to take place in the same manner which, he says, threatens the "liberty of the Church and for the autonomy of its institutions from whatever external interference".

"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," he added.

He said such deplorable episodes "do not favour such dialogue but instead create new obstacles against it."

Declaration regarding the episcopal ordinations in China (Vatican Information Service 4/5/06 - temporary url)

Vatican seeks to prevent second Chinese Govt-appointed bishop (CathNews 4/5/06)
Cardinal Zen urges suspension of bishop Beijing ordained (CathNews 1/5/06)
Beijing confirms the existence of "contacts" between China and the Holy See (CathNews 4/4/06)

Vatican attacks ordination of Chinese bishops (ABC Asia Pacific 4/5/06)
Vatican throws out China bishops (BBC 4/5/06)
Pope condemns China over bishop appointments (Reuters 4/5/06)
A sigh of relief among Chinese Catholics after Vatican issues statement on illegitimate ordinations (AsiaNews.it 4/5/06)
Holy See: illicit ordinations in China are a "serious violation of religious freedom" (AsiaNews.it 4/5/06)
Relations between China and the Holy See within five years, says Mgr Li Duan (AsiaNews.it 4/5/06)
Vatican hits Chinese ordinations, sees threat to religious freedom (Catholic News Service 4/5/06)
Vatican condemns illicit Chinese bishop ordinations, expects excommunications (Catholic News Agency 4/5/06)
Tough Vatican stand on Chinese bishops (Catholic World News 4/5/06)
Vatican Excommunicates 4 Chinese Bishops (The Guardian/Associated Press 4/5/06)
Pope upset as China ordains bishops (Associated Press/The Age 4/5/06)
Cardinal Zen Calls on Vatican to Break Off Talks with China (The Universe 4/5/06)
Pope condemns China over bishop appointments (Reuters/Washington Post 4/5/06)

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Pope condemns China over bishop appointments (Reuters 4/5/06)
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5 May 2006