Arrest Halts Ordination of Catholic Bishop in China

Posted June 30th, 2011 at 4:10 am (UTC-5)
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Church-oriented news organizations say a Catholic priest in China has been arrested shortly before he was to have been ordained as a bishop.

Vatican-linked Asia News and others say Joseph Sun Jigeng was arrested on Sunday in northern Hebei province, and is believed to be in custody at a guest house in the provincial capital. The arrest is the latest move in a struggle between the Vatican and China's state-sanctioned Catholic Church over who has the right to approve the ordination of bishops.

The reports say the official Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association had approved the ordination of Sun, which was to have taken place Wednesday. But the authorities appear to have taken offense when Sun, acting on his own, sought and received approval of the ceremony from the Vatican as well.

Asia News and the other Catholic publications say police forced Sun and another clergyman into a police car immediately after the bishop-to-be completed a pre-ordination retreat in neighboring Henan province.

The publications say the Chinese official church went ahead on Wednesday with the ordination of another bishop who was not approved by the Vatican. They say Paul Lei Shiyan was ordained as the bishop of Leshan at a ceremony in southwestern Sichuan province.

Chinese officials have been quoted saying they are anxious to ordain as many as 40 new bishops without waiting for Vatican approval.