A CHINESE priest has been ordained coadjutor bishop with the approval of the Vatican and Chinese government.
With police officers and dogs monitoring the crowd at St Mary’s church, Fr Peter Luo Xuegang was ordained coadjutor bishop ofYibin diocese in southwestern China’s Sichuan province.
No phones, cameras or liquids were allowed in the venue, according to the Asian Church news agency UCA News. Participants had to arrive three hours before the ordination began to go through security.
Bishop Luo had the approval of the Holy See, but an excommunicated bishop attended his ordination, despite a Vatican spokesman conveying the wish that “no illegitimate bishop will participate”.
In recent years, many ordinations have followed the pattern of bishop candidates being elected by diocesan representatives, then being approved separately by the government-approved bishops’ conference and the Holy See.
Bishop Luo, 47, is the third bishop ordained with both papal approval and government recognition this year.
Bishop John Chen Shizhong of Yibin, 95, presided over the ceremony, attended by 61 priests, 35 nuns, 800 faithful, government officials and representatives of other religions.
Fr Paul Lei Shiyin of Leshan, wore a bishop’s garb despite his excommunication, was with the four Vaticanapproved consecrating bishops.
Bishop Luo and Fr Lei were ordained priests together in Leshan 20 years ago. Bishop Luo was loaned to Yibin diocese in 2009 and was elected the bishop candidate and received the papal mandate last year.
At the Vatican Fr Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman, said the ordination was “positive”. He said Fr Lei’s presence at the ceremony and the “repeated nature of his disobedience to the norms of the Church unfortunately aggravates his canonical position”.
“In ordinary situations, the presence of the Bishop Lei Shiyin should have been absolutely excluded and would bring canonical consequences for the other participating bishops,” Fr Lombardi said. “In the current circumstances, it is probable that the latter [the participating bishops] were not able to prevent him without serious difficulties. In any case, the Holy See will be able to better evaluate the question when it receives more ample and complete information.” An official of the government-approved Church authority in China said in April that 11 dioceses had elected their bishop candidates and awaited the approval of the bishops’ conference. Only five episcopal ordinations have taken place so far.