2011-07-12
Stop forcing the Bishops to participate; Release all unreasonably arrested celergy

 

Urge to the Chinese government and the Patriotic Association
Respect freedom of religion; Cancel illicit ordination ceremony
Stop forcing the Bishops to participate; Release all unreasonably arrested celergy
 
The Chinese authorities repeated illicit ordinations of bishops and this act is greatly disrespectful to the Church, creating internal division and suffering to the Church. To this, we express our strong protest!
 
The Holy See has issued a statement on July 4 regarding Father Lei Shiyin’s illicit ordination without the Pope's appointment on June 29 as the Diocesan Bishop of Leshan diocese. This declaration clearly pointed out that the Holy See does not recognize Father Lei as a Diocesan Bishop. Also due to violation of the “Code of Canon Law”, it was confirmed that he has been put under the effect of penalty. The other bishops participating in this ordination can also be put in strict penalty under the Canon. However, the Chinese government has ignored religious freedom and the statement of the Holy See but planned to carry on with the illicit ordination on July 14 in Shantou diocese for Father Huang Bingzhang. This is a very disrespectful act to the Church.
 
According to the reports of Catholic media, there is already a rightful Bishop Zhuang Jianjian in Shantou Diocese. He received the Pope's appointment in 2006 but was not recognized by the government. The 81-year-old Bishop Zhuang was put under surveillance in the church since the Holy Week in April this year. There were six to eight people keeping watch in turns over all his actions. He has no freedom including imparting the Sacraments of Holy Communion and anointment to the faithful. At the same time, Father Huang Bingzhang was "overwhelmingly" elected Bishop Candidate of Shantou diocese in the election held on May 11 arranged and closely monitored by the Chinese government. A participant in this meeting said that he was escorted by 9 policemen to join in this election. The number of “staff" in that venue even outnumbered the voting representatives, monitoring the entire election process. This participant directly pointed out that this election was not in accordance with the Church principles but enforced by powerful measures which made him disheartened.
 
For this illicit ordination, the Authorities even pressurized several legitimate Bishops, forcing them to join in the ceremony, thus seriously violating freedom of religious belief. In Liaoning (Shenyang) diocese, the priests learned that their Bishop Pei Junmin was being asked to participate in the illicit ordination in Shantou and the statement of the Holy See on the illicit ordination in Leshan, all the priests, over 80, held an emergency meeting and issued a joint declaration to the Authorities, showing their stance of strong opposition. At present, in order to protect their Diocesan Bishop, they are confronting against the government officials. We are profoundly concerned about their situation. On the other hand, the other bishops in Guangdong Province recognized by the Vatican were pressurized by the government. It was understood that Bishop Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou diocese, Bishop Liao Hongqing of Meizhou diocese, Bishop Su Yongda of Zhanjiang diocese and Bishop Liang Jiansen of Jiangmen diocese were taken away. It is reported that their present whereabouts is unknown but it is believed that they are being threatened by the government authorities to participate in the illicit Episcopal ordination in Shantou diocese. We express our strong protest against the brutal interference by the government authorities of these Bishops’ personal freedom and religious freedom!
 
The Constitution of China stipulates that citizens have freedom of religious belief. Article 18 in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights also states that "everyone enjoys the rights to freedom of thoughts, conscience, and religion. This includes freedom to maintain or change his religion or religious belief, either alone or in groups, public or private by worship, observance, practice, and doctrine in expressing his religion or religious belief”. We urge the Chinese government and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) to respect the constitution and international human rights treaty for the implementation of citizens' freedom of religious belief, stop forcing the clergy in mainland China in violating the principles of faith and their conscience.
 
 
We urge the Chinese government and the Patriotic Association immediately:
1.      Respect for the autonomy of the Church and the relationship with the Universal Church, and cancel Father Huang Bingzhang’s illicit ordination ceremony;
2.      Stop pressurizing the mainland Chinese bishops, not to force them in participating in this illicit ordination ceremony;
3.      Release all unreasonable arrests of clergy including: Bishop Su Zhimin, Fathers Lu Genjun, Ma Wuyong, and Liu Honggeng of Baoding diocese in Hebei, Bishop Shi Enxiang of Yixian diocese in Hebei, Father Chen Hailong of Xuanhua diocese, Father Li Huisheng of Xiwanzi diocese in Hebei, and so on;
4.      Have dialogue with the Vatican in good faith, equality, pragmatic and openness, in order to have normal operation in the local church as soon as possible.
 
Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese 
 
12 July 2011