1,000 Missionaries of Mercy -- The Snag of the Unauthorized Bishops of China
(Rome) On Wednesday Pope Francis celebrated a liturgy for the 1,000 Missionaries of Mercy during the Ash Wednesday. They will go out into the world with the power of being able to forgive those grave sins whose forgiveness is reserved only to the.
Canon 1367: Whoever throws away the consecrated sacrament or for a sacrilegious purpose, steals them or keeps them, incurs latae sententiae excommunication reserved to thethe Holy See: a cleric, moreover, must be subject to a further punishment, the dismissal from the clerical state is not excluded.
Canon 1370.1: A person who uses physical force against the Roman Pontiff incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; if the offender is a cleric, another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, may be added according to the gravity of the crime..
Canon 1378.1: A priest who acts against the prescription of Can. 977 incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See..
Canon 977: The absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is invalid except in danger of death..
Canon 1382: A bishop who consecrates someone without pontifical mandate to bishop, as well as he who receives the consecration from him, excommunication reserved incurs a latae sententiae reserved by the Holy See.
Canon 1388.1: A confessor who violates the seal of confession directly incurs latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Holy See; but he who violates it only indirectly, he shall be punished according to the gravity of the offense.
Pope Benedict XVI. added with the Motu proprio Norma nonnullas of 22 February, 2013 another crime. The excommunication is latae sententiae, reserved by the Holy See, to anyone who breaks the secrecy of the conclave.
In addition, there are other offenses, of which the individual priest can not absolve, but only the Holy See or the diocesan bishop. This includes the crime of abortion.
Whoever commits any of these offenses, is automatically excommunicated. He himself is excluded by the fact from communion with the Church and is not admitted to the sacraments. That is, he may not even go to confession. If he does so, then the priest must deny him absolution and refer him to the bishop or the Pope. Would the priest nevertheless grant him absolution, this would be null and void.
In order to obtain the possibility of absolution from sin, excommunication must be set aside previously.This can in some cases be accomplished by the competent diocesan bishop, in other cases, only the Pope.
Now Pope Francis with the Missionaries of Charity has issued an authorization to more than a thousand priests around the world, during the Holy Year of Mercy to annul these excommunications, as a condition for re-admission to confession and thus to reconciliation with the Church.
What happens to the seven illicitly consecrated bishops in China?
The Vatican expert Sandro Magister points to a very special case in which the matter may "not be so simple"... "at least for a sin". It involves illicit episcopal ordinations, which were carried out in the PRC.To control the Catholic Church, the communist regime has created a Catholic organization obedient to the regime called the Patriotic Association. The CP has demanded that the bishops and priests renounce Rome and are required to pledge their loyalty to the regime, while loyalty to the Pope and the Church is persecuted as "subservience to a foreign power."
The Beijing government, therefore, officially determines who are bishops in mainland China. Although these appointments are not recognized by Rome, the regime allows the episcopal ordinations , mostly bishops of the regime, while bishops loyal to Rome are forced to participate.
Currently, there are at least seven such bishops who were ordained without papal permission. They have undertaken more illicit ordinations. Anyone who participates in such an illicit ordination is automatically excommunicated.
Zhan Silu, bishop of Mindong (Fujian), consecrated in 2000
Ma Yinglin, Bishop of Kunming (Yunnan) and President of the Chinese Bishops' Council, the variant of the Episcopal Conference loyal to the regime, consecrated in 2006
Liu Xinhong, Bishop of Wuhu (Anhui), consecrated in 2006
Guo Jincai, Bishop of Chengde (Hebei), consecrated 2010
Lei Shiyin, Bishop of Leshan (Sichuan), consecrated in 2011
Huang Bingzhang, Bishop of Shantou (Guangdong), consecrated in 2011
Yue Fusheng, Bishop of Harbin (Heilongjiang), consecrated in 2012
Among the more than 1,000 Missionaries of Mercy there is only one Chinese officially notified: Father Luigi Bonalumi from Hong Kong of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME). However, he only speaks the Cantonese spoken mainly in southern China, not Mandarin. Cantonese is only spoken by about six percent of Chinese. He will also, according to the official statement, exercise his authority only in the Diocese of Hong Kong.
Lifting of the excommunication of illicit episcopal ordinations remains reserved to the pope
On February 9 Curial Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization and coordinator of the Holy Year has given the Missionaries of Charity written instructions. They show that they can forgive all sins mentioned in the Pope's name, except one: the forgiveness of an illicit episcopal ordination remains exclusively reserved for the Pope in the Holy Year.
Father Bernardo Cervellera, PIME, the chief of the press portal AsiaNews , has recalled how such cases have proceeded so far. The Holy See demanded of excommunicated bishops that they send a letter to the Pope, setting out their situation, including an admission of guilt by recognizing the responsibility of any wrongdoing, and asking for forgiveness.
Then the Holy See asks of the bishops, to make a public gesture and ask the faithful for forgiveness for the scandal they have caused them.
Dilemma of visible reconciliation
This was particularly true for those bishops who were more or less forced to take part in illicit episcopal ordinations. More problematic is the reintegration of illicitly consecrated bishops themselves. It is difficult to say they have been forced to episcopal dignity.
They are also exposed at a reconciliation with Rome to an even higher probability of reprisals and persecution. Quitting the Patriotic Association is a mandatory step and is understood by the Communist Party as an attack on their authority. The Beijing regime would, as it has so often accused the Vatican in the past, of "interference in internal affairs".
For the situation of such a bishop in the Patriotic Association, the faithful have had reason to doubt the sincerity of his reconciliation.
The Holy Year of Mercy should probably have initially no effect on the painful question of episcopal ordinations in the People's Republic of China. Pope Francis attempted a " rapprochment" of a different kind a few days ago by offering flowers to the Beijing regime and excluded the question of episcopal appointments, the Underground Church, the persecution of Christians and human rights. Reactions from Beijing are not yet known.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Vatican.va/OR (Screenshot)