The Diocese of Shanghai in China ordained four new priests on June 5 but the government stopped the ordination of one deacon who joined the 2016 World Youth Day celebration in Poland.
The ordination to the priesthood of Paul Yang Dongdong, 34, who was ordained deacon the day earlier with the four other candidates, was suspended for traveling to Poland five years ago.
“They only stopped him because he went to participate in World Youth Day,” a source was quoted by online news site AsiaNews.
“He simply went to a meeting with other young Catholics of the world and to meet Pope Francis,” said the source.
“So it seems that in China ‘sin’ is precisely having a relationship with the pope and with the rest of the Church in the world,” the source told the Church-run news site.
The newly ordained priests were Giovanni Ning Yongwang, 30, from Baotou (Inner Mongolia); Giovanni Zhou Jia, 34, from Bayanzhuoer (Inner Mongolia); Matteo Mi Jizhou, 29, from Xingtai (Hebei); and Francesco Wu Shun, 31, from Jinzhong (Shanxi).
Yang Dongdong is from Nantiangong (Lucheng, Shanxi).
The priestly ordinations were held in the Cathedral of St. Ignatius in Xujiahui. It was presided by Bishop Giuseppe Shen Bin, vice president of the Council of Bishops and the Patriotic Association.
Bishop Shen Bin of the Diocese of Haimen (Jiangsu) is a cardinal recognized by the Holy See and the Chinese government since his ordination in 2010.
Bishop Taddeo Ma Daqin of Shanghai failed to attend the celebration. He resigned from the Patriotic Association in 2012 and is under house arrest at the seminary of Sheshan.
The Sheshan seminary has been closed and only resumed priestly ordinations in 2017.
He has been prohibited from having contact with the public and form exercising his episcopal functions.
Only a few faithful were able to participate the ceremonies due to strict health restrictions.
Bishop Ma Daqin, whose personal blog has been banned for years, welcomed the ordination in a message on WeChat.
“We thank God for rewarding us with five other workers in God’s field … for the younger generations of the Church and spiritual fathers of the faithful,” said the prelate.
“I pray that the grace of God will always be with them. I also pray that God will grant us more priests, more nuns, and more vocations,” said the bishop.
“The seeds planted are in full bloom today and know joy,” he added.
Before the ordinations on June 5, Bishop Shen Bin gave a lecture on “Adhering to the Sinicization of Catholicism and Doing a Good Job in Teaching the New Era.”
“Sinicization” and “new era” are two slogans of Chinese President Xi Jinping in moves to establish a national Church closely linked to Chinese culture and the Chinese Communist Party.