Vatican City — The Vatican has excommunicated two Chinese bishops ordained without the Pope’s consent.
The Vatican strongly criticized the ordination of bishops by China’s state-approved Catholic Church, saying earlier Thursday that they represent a ”grave violation of religious freedom” and hinder dialogue between the Vatican and Beijing.
A statement from the Vatican spokesman said Pope Benedict XVI was deeply saddened at the news of the ordinations, which took place without Vatican approval. It called on Chinese authorities to prevent any such moves in the future – noting that they lead to excommunication.
”The Holy Father learned of the news with great sadness,” Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in the statement. ”It is a great wound to the unity of the Church.”
On Wednesday, the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association ordained Liu Xinhong as bishop at the city of Wuhu’s St. Joseph’s Church in the eastern province of Anhui.
It was the second ordination in three days without the consent of the Vatican, which traditionally appoints its own bishops. On Sunday, China’s official church ordained Ma Yinglin as a bishop in the southwestern province of Yunnan.
Canonist Ed Peters wonders about the canonical validity of the illicit episcopal ordinations. He raises the point about Mormon baptism being invalid despite proper matter and form and their invalidity is based totally on intention. It would be easy to make the case that the Chinese ordination could have a similar defect.
Another report says that the two bishops involved in the ordinations were also excommunicated which only makes sense.