China (PRC): Government Bishop excommunicated by can. 1382

From VIS/

Statement of the Holy See on the Episcopal Ordination in the Diocese of Shantou (Mainland China) [Note the distinction of “mainland”.  The Holy See has diplomatic relations with Taiwan at a higher level than with the PRC.]

The following clarifications are issued with reference to the episcopal ordination of the Reverend Joseph Huang Bingzhang which took place on Thursday, 14 July 2011:

1) The Reverend Joseph Huang Bingzhang, having been ordained without papal mandate and hence illicitly, has incurred the sanctions laid down by canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law.  Consequently, the Holy See does not recognize him as Bishop of the Diocese of Shantou, and he lacks authority to govern the Catholic community of the Diocese.
The Reverend Huang Bingzhang had been informed some time ago that he could not be approved by the Holy See as an episcopal candidate, inasmuch as the Diocese of Shantou already has a legitimate Bishop; Reverend Huang had been asked on numerous occasions not to accept episcopal ordination.

2) From various sources the Holy See had knowledge of the fact that some Bishops, contacted by the civil authorities, had expressed their unwillingness to take part in an illicit ordination and also offered various forms of resistance, yet were reportedly obliged to take part in the ordination.
With regard to this resistance, it should be noted that it is meritorious before God and calls for appreciation on the part of the whole Church. Equal appreciation is also due to those priests, consecrated persons and members of the faithful who have defended their pastors, accompanying them by their prayers at this difficult time and sharing in their deep suffering.

3) The Holy See reaffirms the right of Chinese Catholics to be able to act freely, following their consciences and remaining faithful to the Successor of Peter and in communion with the universal Church.
The Holy Father, having learned of these events, once again deplores the manner in which the Church in China is being treated and hopes that the present difficulties can be overcome as soon as posssible.

From the Vatican, 16 July 2011

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  1. Patti Day says:

    The message could not be more clear. The Catholic Church will not be wrested away from Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

  2. veronicao says:

    It’s easy to forget that in China and in Muslim countries, our Church is suffering combat conditions. Thanks for bringing the struggle to light, Father Z. We need to offer prayers and penance for our priests and Bishops over there.

  3. Prof. Basto says:

    So it seems that in this particular case the Holy See recognizes the culpability of the ordained Bishop but recognizes at the same time the lack of culpability of at least part of the consacrations, given that at least some of the Bishops who took part in the rite of ordination and who laid hands on the ordinand did so under duress, and having offered at least some measure of resistance.

    Thus the communiqué proclaims the sanction incurred by the ordained, but does not mention sanctions incurred by the consacrators, instead praising the resistance offered by those Bishops who resisted, a resistance that is indeed meritorious before God.

  4. Prof. Basto says:


    When I wrote: “…the lack of culpability of at least part of the consacrations” I meant to write “the lack of culpability of at least part of the consacrators”.

  5. cresci says:

    While this, the Brazilian National Conference of Bishops receives, smiling, the cabinet leaders of the schismatic “national church” of China, a couple of days ago, one day before the Papal statement of sorrow.

  6. Prof. Basto says:


    And one day after the illicit ordinations.


    The Brazilian Conference of Bishops, now attempting to usurp the Holy See’s role of conducting ecclesiastical diplomacy – is a joke. A sad one, of really bad taste. Everyone knows that it is a leftist organizations, and that most Bishops have little affection for the Holy See and the magisterium, instead revering figures like the late Archbishop Helder Câmara, the marxist-rupturist liberation theology supremo.

  7. sophiamarie3 says:

    I have a nieve question, the Vatican describes the ordination as “illicit”, why isn’t it “invalid”?

  8. Prof. Basto says:


    Because at least one of the Consacrators is assumed to have had the intention of consacrating.

    Perhaps part of the Consacrators were already “Government Bishops”.

    If all of the Consecrators had acted under duress, the lack of intention would result in the invalidity of the Sacrament; but since several consacrators take part in the all important Sacrament of Holy Orders, if one of them acted with the intention of doing what the Church does, then the Sacrament is valid, even if the lack of papal mandate makes it illicit.

  9. RichardT says:

    “Mainland” China not only excludes Taiwan but also Hong Kong and Macau.

    This is important because although Taiwan is in reality an independent country (although legally it’s more complex than that), Hong Kong and Macau are now parts of China, although with broad powers of self-government.

    The Catholic Church, loyal to the Pope, is broadly free in Hong Kong and Macau – arguably now more free than it is in England. Indeed the current Chief Executive of Hong Kong is a practising Catholic (who is reported to attend daily Mass).

    The fact that Communist China continues to respect the self-governing status, and political and other freedoms, of Hong Kong and Macau continues to both astonish and delight me.

  10. Imrahil says:

    An addition to @Prof. Basto’s words: I could very well imagine that a Bishop prefers an illicit, but secure ordination to all the mess when which is involved when somebody runs around thinking and styling himself Bishop while not being one; and so even though resisting as much as possible for him, intentions to consecrate validly when he does perform the act of consecration.

    However, arguably he could evade, through withholding intention, the excommunication via can 1382, while arguably being liable for simulation (which is “only” “just punishment”, can. 1379). I wonder whether government pressure holds good for can. 1323seq. to take at least the latae-sententiae-punishment away; I should think so. Anyway, the bishop mentioned in the official statement is to be considered excommunicate by public ascertainment, or whatever that’s called in English.

  11. uptoncp says:

    Unless *all* the participating bishops come forward to say that they went through the form with no intention, we cannot but assume that the consecration is valid.

  12. MichaelJ says:

    If Fr. Bingzhang were under duress or otherwise coerced into accepting an Episcopal ordination, then there would be no latæ sententiæ excommunication, correct?
    Since the Holy See has publicly declared that his excommunication actually occurred though, it must mean that they know that he was acting freely.

    If so, why not initiate the proceedings for a ferendæ sententiæ excommunication?

  13. Dr. Eric says:

    I offer my prayers through the intercession of Our Lady of Sheshan.

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