Attended a Catholic Mass in China (back in 95)

Attended a mass while on a visit to China. I also received Communion then. In recent years, I’ve heard that the Chinese govt tolerates the Catholic Church in China, but with certain restrictions. I havent researched the issue, so wondering if anyone knows abou the state of the Catholic Church in China. Also, a thought keeps nagging me that maybe because the church in China may not be in full communion with Rome, that the holy mass in China is in fact invalid, and transsubstantiation does not occur.

The Communist government in China openly persecutes the Church present within its borders. Catholics are told where and when they can attend Mass, disciminated against in all sots of ways, and have had a number of their bishops sentenced to lengthy prison terms because they refused to cooperate with the unjust laws and policies regarding them and their activities. I might add that the government also decides who gets elevated to the episcopate, and naturally they ensure that only the most liberal men possible are selected; the Vatican allows them to do this, but only to avoid worse evils.

So basically, the Church in China has an “underground” status, for the truly orthodox members at least. It’s a terrible situation, and we can only pray that the Catholics there will persevere.

In regards to the communion issue, there’s nothing to worry about. The orthodox Catholic bishops of China are fiercely loyal to Rome, even though they are often not allowed to communicate with the Vatican and are denied permission to travel. But even if they weren’t in communion, that wouldn’t automatically rule out the possibility of their Masses being valid. Schism only invalidates those sacraments that require jurisdiction (Penance and Matrimony).

I’m not an expert, but…

I was under the impression that the “official” church in China (Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association) had bishops appointed by the government and did not recognize the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, leading to excommunication of those bishops, and the bishops they appointed. Further, I was under the impression that it wasn’t until 2005 that the Vatican and Beijing started “joint appointing” bishops.

That would mean that in 1995, if the Mass was “official”, it would be invalid, and if it was “underground” loyal to Rome, it might have been valid.

No. Schism does not automatically result in invalidity of sacraments. That idea is basically a variation on the Donatist heresy.

I don’t follow. A Roman Catholic should not accept communion at an Eastern Orthodox schismatic church, so why would this be a different situation?

We are allowed to receive at a schismatic church where there are valid sacraments (Eastern Orthodox, SSPX etc.) so long as there is nowhere else available to receive from a minister in communion with Rome. However there is no obligation in these situations.

As others have said, the mass would not have been invalid, but if the priest offering mass was not in communion with Rome, then the mass would most likely be illicit, which is different from validity. Liceity means lawfulness, or if it is permitted. A priest that is suspended a divinis, such as an SSPX priest, offers mass illicitly, since he is not supposed to say mass, but the mass is not invalid.

It wouldn’t really be a different situation. As others noted, there are many things that should not be done. When they are done, these illicit actions do not automatically invalidate the sacraments.

There is the state-sponsored and accepted Catholic Church, and then there is the underground persecuted valid Catholic Church and faithful who ARE in communion with Rome. The state-sponsored Church is not, though it has validly ordained priests and bishops.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.