Amid all the controversy surrounding the Vatican’s new relationship with China, this detail is one that hasn’t gotten much attention.
But the National Catholic Register offers this:
Further concerns involve the lifting of seven bishops’ excommunications. According to Cardinal Zen, two of them, Paul Lei Shiyin and Joseph Liu Xinhong, are widely known to have children. “That is for certain, for a long time it’s public knowledge,” Zen said. The Vatican insists it is just rumor, and there is not sufficient evidence, but Cardinal Zen believes these are “just excuses because they want to surrender to the government.”
Added to this concern, given they are now meant to be true successors of the apostles, is that the two bishops may be married. The fact that some bishops in the Patriotic Association have been known to have wives has been an obstacle to rapprochement in the past. During the Cultural Revolution some priests were forced to marry, although celibacy is now observed in the official church.
Such a reality would be very grave, according to Cardinal Raymond Burke. “If it is true that one or more of the ‘reconciled’ bishops from the Patriotic Church in China are married, the Latin Church, by the recent accords with the government of China, has broken with apostolic tradition which has never permitted Bishops to be married, above all, out of respect for the example of Our Lord, the Great High Priest in whose person the bishop acts in a full way,” he told the Register.
“Such a fact, coupled with the open lack of respect for the authority of the Petrine Office on the part of some of the bishops, calls into question the canonical validity of the lifting of the excommunication which the bishops involved had justly incurred,” said Cardinal Burke, a former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest court.
Neither Cardinal Parolin nor the two Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association bishops who attended the Youth Synod in October — one of whom, Joseph Guo Jincai, was one whose excommunication had been lifted — responded to Register inquiries about the allegations. Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples, said he did not know about the allegations but welcomed any documents that might confirm them.