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China Remains Silent to Bishop's Excommunication

Chinese officials and state-controlled media remained quiet, Friday, after the Vatican excommunicated two bishops ordained without papal approval.
( [email protected] ) May 05, 2006 08:49 PM EDT

Chinese officials and state-controlled media remained quiet, Friday, after the Vatican excommunicated two bishops ordained without papal approval.

The ordination of Bishops Ma Yinglin and Liu, respectively on Sunday and Wednesday, has raised tensions, chilling hopes for formal dialogue between China and the Vatican.

Chinese Catholics have expressed dismay for the recent turn of event.

"We didn’t think thing would move forward too quickly but we were hoping at least things wouldn’t get worse," an unidentified woman said to China Post, a Taiwan-based newspaper.

It is estimated that about 10 million to 14 million Catholics have remain loyal to the Pope, after Beijing severed ties with the Vatican in 1951.

Observers specializing on Catholicism in China had hoped that renewed Chinese and Vatican dialogue would help the situation of "underground" Catholics, whom are often subjected to harassment, arrests, fines, and sometimes imprisonment.

In other cases, Chinese Catholics and clergymen have been known to circulate between both "underground" and officials churches.

Though official media remained quiet Friday morning, Chinese Catholics were receiving news from friends in Europe and the United States by mobile phone, email, and web sites, said John-Paul Wiest, a China Catholic expert residing in Beijing – according to China Post.

"The Chinese are like the bamboo, they bend with the wind," Wiest added. "Right now the reaction is probably, 'Meiyou banfa' (nothing can be done). We will just lay down and see what happens."

The ordination of Liu Xinhong as bishop at the city of Wuhu’s St. Joseph Church in Anhui Province, eastern China, caused an uproar in Rome. Cardinal Joseph of Hong Kong, recently elevated by Pope Benedict XVI, called for the suspension of dialogue between China and the Vatican.

Liu’s ordination came days after the ordination of Ma Yinglin, Sunday, in Yunnan Province, southwestern China.

Pope Benedict received the consecrations "with great sadness," according to Vatican spokesmen Joaquin Navarro-Valls, whom added, "It is a great wound to the unity of the church."