Someone kindly shared some articles from the South China Morning Post which shed more light on the situation in China and the illicit (but valid) consecrations of bishops for the People Republic of China’s "Patriotic Catholic Association", the official Church not in union with the Vatican. There are good articles from Asia News.
On 30 April the PRC’s PCA went ahead and consecrated a priest of the Patriotic Church named Ma Yinglin (41 yearsof age) for the diocese of Kunming in Yunan province without the approval of the Roman Pontiff. Ma Yinglin had been elected to be a bishop by a council on 21 Jan 2006. Nine other Patriotic Bishops were present at the consecration along with 1000 others including government officials. This means that those involved incurred the excommunication latae sententiae foreseen by canon law in much the same way that the late Archbishop Lefebvre and the four bishop did in 1988. Many of the faithful in Kunming did not desire to attend and were sad that Rome was not involved. This was engineered by Liu Bainian, the deputy chairman of the Patriotic Association. Back on 9 March 2006 Bishop Zen issued a stinging rebuke to Liu Bianian after Liu spoke with Reuters against the creation of Bishop Zen as a Cardinal by Benedict XVI. Here is a sample:
"Mr. Liu Bai Nian, the vice-chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Association, member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, in an interview to Reuters poised himself as the judge of Pope Benedict XVI, saying, on the one hand, that he appreciates the Pope’s traditional position in matters of faith, but on the other hand, criticized his elevation of Bishop Zen to the Cardinalate as an act of hostility towards China. …
As for the biblical saying “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”, we do not think Mr. Liu is a more competent interpreter than the Pope. I will not repeat here the distinction between power politics and the participation in social matters which is a duty and a right of every adult person, Cardinals included.
Bishop Zen reminds himself and Mr. Liu that both are above seventy years of age and the day is not far away when they will have to meet the Heavenly Judge. May this thought counsel more wisdom in all their decisions!"
In any event, during the consecration ceremony Ma said he wanted to "follow Saint Peter’s teaching to be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake". (NB: "human" institution) He reminds me of the SSPX: so very much honor to Peter, but no obedience.
Cardinal Zen issued a sharp reaction to the consecration saying: "This action has caused serious damage to the Ecclesial Communion and an irregular station for Fr Ma, which will not be corrected in a short time although he may hope for approval from the Holy See. This action has destroyed also the atmosphere of mutual trust so necessary for a successful dialogue in view of a betterment of relation between Holy See and Beijing".
On 3 May the official Patriotic Church was to consecrate Liu Xinhong as the bishop of Anhui. According to the SCMP Fr. Liu Xinhong had been refused by Rome as a candidate to be a bishop after Rome’s investigation of him. At first Liu accepted the Holy See’s decision, but then later changed his mind and went ahead. He has a reputation for being very close to the government.
Keep in mind that last August 28 priests of the Patriotic Church went to Rome and met with Pope Benedict XVI. Two months later, however, refused to let four Catholic bishops leave China and go to Rome for the Synod of Bishops which discussed the Eucharist. It very much appears that, despite the Holy See’s willingness to abandon Taiwan and move its diplomatic presence to Beijing, Beijing is determined to muddy the waters. The illicit consecrations were an intentional scratching of the Vatican’s diplomatic eyeball.
Surely the Holy See needs to keep trying, but does anyone really believe that Beijing is going to play it straight?