Does illicit mean illegal?

I refer to a news report, Visit to Taiwan by illicit bishop fuels speculation which appeared in the March 8 issue of the HERALD.

Mar 20, 2015

Dear Editor,
I refer to a news report, Visit to Taiwan by illicit bishop fuels speculation which appeared in the March 8 issue of the HERALD.

Why is Bishop Joseph Liu Xin-bong of Anhui province described as “illicit bishop”? I was under the impression his ordination was not recognized by the Vatican but does that make the Bishop illegal?

After all, this Bishop is recognized by the Government of the Republic of China, and in the light of “... render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) How can Bishop Liu be an illegal Bishop? I also can’t help recalling our Lord Jesus’ response to His disciples in Mark 9:37 to people other than His disciples using the name of Jesus to show their welcoming love.

And there is nothing in Matthew 16:18 to indicate that our Lord has Himself restricted His Infinite Authority, Power or Will to appoint or allow other churches to prevail along with the “my Church” in Matthew 16:18.

I submit the position taken by the Vatican is not consistent with Christ’s teachings and is the cause of Christ’s Church in China in its current position including Bishops Shi Enxiang (who has since been reported dead) and Su Zhimin being detained.

Michael G Lee
via Email

If a priest is ordained a bishop based on the mandate from the Government of the Republic of China and not from the Pope, the ordination is illicit and therefore illegal.

The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has clarified some details regarding the correct application of canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law (C.I.C.), especially in relation to the canonical responsibilities of the subjects involved in an episcopal consecration without the necessary apostolic mandate.

Canon 1331 1 C.I.C. points out that the excommunicated person is prohibited from 1) taking part as a minister in the celebration of the Eucharist or any other ceremony of public worship; 2) celebrating sacraments and sacramentals, and receiving any sacrament; 3) exercising ecclesiastical ministerial functions or acts of government. These prohibitions enter into effect ipso iure at the very moment in which a latae sententiae penalty is incurred. Hence, there is no necessity for any authority to intervene to impose these prohibitions on the subject: awareness of having committed an offence suffices for the person who has incurred the punishment to be held before God to abstain from such acts, on pain of committing a morally illicit and therefore sacrilegious act. However, even acts derived from the power of order and carried out in these circumstances of sacrilege would be valid.

Jesus himself has said: I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. John 15: 15-16.

God still calls and chooses us through the Church.

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