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Another Bishop Ordained in China Without Vatican Consent

A priest of Shantou, China, Father Joseph Huang Bingzhang, was ordained today without a papal mandate.

Eight Vatican-approved bishops attended the ordination that took place at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Shantou city, southern Guangdong province.

Bishop Johan Fang Xingyao of Linyin, president of the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), was the main celebrant.

Four of the consecrating bishops were from Guangdong: Bishops Joseph Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou, Paul Liang Jiansen of Jiangmen, Joseph Liao Hongqing of Meizhou and Paul Su Yongda of Zhanjiang.

The rest were Bishops Paul He Zeqing of Wanzhou, Joseph Shen Bin of Haimen and Coadjutor Bishop John Baptist Li Suguang of Nanchang.

The Shantou ordination took place just 10 days after the Holy See excommunicated Father Paul Lei Shiyin of Leshan, who was ordained a bishop without papal mandate.

The July 4 statement also stated that the consecrating bishops, including Bishops Fang and He, have exposed themselves to grave canonical sanctions.

In Shantou this morning, police sealed off all roads around the cathedral. Nobody could get near without an entry card. Only designated photographers were allowed to bring cameras or video recorders.

About 30 priests and more than 1,000 people were present. However, Church sources said fewer than half of the 20 diocesan priests attended. They hid away separately days ago but a few were found by officials and had to attend to the ceremony.

Vatican-approved Bishop Peter Zhuang Jianjian of Shantou, whom the government recognized as a priest, is watched by dozens of plainclothes officers at his rural church.

Bishop Zhuang will not recognize Father Huang as a bishop, saying he violated Church law and principles. “Before Father Huang repents wholeheartedly, we will not have any contact in sacraments as he chose not to be in communion with the pope,” said a source quoting the old prelate.

The bishop has called on the faithful to recite the rosaries for God’s help to overcome the difficulties.

A Shantou priest who attended the ordination said he hoped the new bishop could unite the priests for the good of the local Church. “Forgiveness, tolerance and mutual support are more important,” said the priest on condition of anonymity.

Even if the Holy See excommunicates Bishop Huang, “I will work with him except for sacramental communion and continue to serve my parishioners who are innocent in this incident,” he said.

The priest recalled that the new bishop said after the ceremony that he knows his road ahead is very difficult. “Today is an unforgettable day for me. I am a humble man, who hoped to contribute for the country, the Church and society,” the new bishop was quoted as saying.

In internet chatrooms, many Catholics across China have expressed their sadness, sorrow and helplessness at the second illicit ordination in two weeks.

Born in 1967, Father Huang entered the seminary in 1985 and became a priest in 1991. He has been a deputy of the National People’s Congress (China’s parliament) since 1998 and is a vice-chair of the CCPA.