The Vatican strongly criticized an illicitly ordained bishop who took part in the episcopal ordination of Fr Peter Luo Xuegang yesterday in the Yibin diocese against the wishes of Rome.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi denounced the “disapproval and disconcertment” it created among Catholics and told journalists that Fr Paul Lei Shiyin’s standing within the Catholic Church was “worsened” by his decision to disobey an explicit request from the Holy See not to take part in the ordination.
Fr Lei was excommunicated after being ordained bishop of Leshan in June without papal mandate and was subsequently excommunicated.
Church law prescribes that the other bishops taking part in the rite – firstly, Bishop John Chen Shizhong of Yibin, the main officiant of the ordination – should have “absolutely excluded” Fr Lei, or they risk incurring “canonical consequences”.
Nevertheless, the Vatican spokesman added, “probably they could have not prevented it without grave inconvenience” and the Holy See will only be able to evaluate the matter properly when it has more detailed information on the events in Yibin.
Lombardi stressed that Fr Lei’s defiance of the Vatican was compounded by the fact that he was one of the consecrating bishops during the rite: “His continued disobedience of Church law unfortunately worsens his canonical position.”
The Vatican also noted that Fr Luo’s ordination with Rome’s approval was “certainly positive” after three unwarranted episcopal ordinations in mainland China in recent months.
“This will be appreciated not only by Chinese bishops and Catholics, but also by the universal Church.”