China ordains Vatican-approved bishop

The Vatican has approved the episcopal ordination of a US-educated priest in China, Fr Paul Pei Junmin, just days after Benedict XVI condemned the unauthorised ordination of two bishops by Beijing.

AsiaNews reports that Fr Pei was ordained coadjutor bishop by the current ordinary bishop, Jin Peixian. At least 5,000 Catholics celebrated the episcopal ordination.

During the homily, Bishop Jin highlighted the link between the ordination and the feast of the Good Shepherd (fourth Sunday of Easter): "We thank God not only for granting us a new bishop, but [we thank him] also for vocations of young priests and nuns in our diocese."

The diocese of Shenyang has more than 70 priests and as many seminarians; 150 sisters and around 100,000 faithful, according to AsiaNews. Mgr Pei so far has occupied the posts of vice-rector and dean of studies at the major seminary. He is an expert in biblical theology and as bishop, he has chosen as the motto: "In verbo autem tuo" (following your word).

More than 100 priests, including some who came from abroad, especially from Korea, participated in the Ordination Mass. In Shenyang diocese, there are some groups of Korean ethnicity, and there are ongoing ties between Catholics in South Korea and China.

Only a small percentage of the crowd of 5,000 faithful could participate in the ceremony inside the church; most followed the ordination on a large screen placed in the square opposite the cathedral.

According to AsiaNews, the presence of such a large number of believers is due to the knowledge within the Chinese Church that the ordination had the approval of the Holy See.

The "approved" ordinations followed two unauthorised episcopal ordinations of Chinese priests and a Vatican warning last week that such actions could jeopardise relations between Beijing and the Vatican.

The two ordinations in Kunming and Wuhu were branded by a Vatican statement as "a grave violation of religious freedom" and a "serious wound to the unity of the Church," incurring "severe canonical sanctions."

Bishop Mgr Pei Junmin ordained with Pope's approval (AsiaNews.it 8/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)

Pope declares diplomatic war with China (CathNews 5/5/06)
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)

Undergound bishops in China ask for prayers for official priests facing pressure and threats (AsiaNews.it 8/5/06)
China ordains Vatican-approved bishop over weekend (Catholic News Agency 8/5/06)
Sandro Magister: The Pope Is Asking China for Freedom, Not Forgiveness (L'Espresso 8/5/06)
Chinese Catholics ask prayers to withstand pressure (Catholic World News 8/5/06)
New Chinese Bishop Said to Have Papal OK (Zenit 7/5/06)

9 May 2006