May 25, 2013
Vatican condemns ordination of bishop in China
The Vatican condemned the ordination of a bishop in China that took place last week without papal authorisation, saying it was an illegitimate act that damaged the unity of the Church.
The Vatican said Pope Benedict had been "deeply saddened" by the ordination of Paul Lei Shiyin, who was named as bishop of the city of Leshan on June 29.
"Rev Lei Shiyin, ordained without the Papal mandate and hence 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," the Vatican said in a statement.
The strongly worded statement is the latest in a long-running dispute between the Vatican and Beijing over the status of China's state-backed Church, which has disregarded injunctions not to name bishops without papal authorisation.
"An episcopal ordination without Papal mandate is directly opposed to the spiritual role of the Supreme Pontiff and damages the unity of the Church," the Vatican statement said.
"The Leshan ordination was a unilateral act which sows division and unfortunately produces rifts and tensions in the Catholic community un China," it said.
The statement added that the bishops who took part in the ordination had laid themselves open to "grave canonical sanctions".
Last November, the pope's office issued a similar condemnation following the ordination of Joseph Guo Jincai, a mamber of the state-backed church in Chengde.
Catholics in China are divided between one Church that recognises the pope and his authority to name bishops and a state-backed "patriotic association" that names its own.
The Vatican previously condemned what it called "external pressures and constrictions" on Catholics in China.