Posted by: rbbadger | April 19, 2009

Episcopal gauntlets in Korea and China

Following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the vesture of bishops was simplified somewhat.  Before the reforms of Paul VI, the episcopal gauntlets or bishop’s gloves were part of the required vesture for a bishop celebrating a Solemn Pontifical High Mass.

In most cases, unless the bishop is celebrating the Mass using the older Missale Romanum, he doesn’t use the gloves.  However, in Korea, the gloves are still worn by some bishops.  This shot was taken by my friend Steve in 2007 on the occasion of the Mass of Easter Sunday celebrated by His Eminence, Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jin-suk, Archbishop of Seoul.  Another old Catholic custom, now no longer observed in large parts of the world, is still observed in Korea.  Namely the use of veils by women at Mass. 

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Father John Zuhlsdorf on his blog What Does the Prayer Really Say? linked to a site in China showing the Bishop of Shanghai, The Most Rev. Aloysius Jin Luxian, S.J. celebrating the chrism Mass.  Bishop Jin was imprisoned by the Communists along with Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-mei, the Bishop of Shanghai.  The Communists sought to wrest the Catholic Church in China away from Rome.  Bishop Jin was ordained a bishop in 1985 without the permission of the Pope.  He was put in the place of the then-imprisoned Cardinal Kung by the government.  For years, the Catholic Church in China has been split in two.  There were government-approved bishops ordained without Rome’s permission.  Ordaining a bishop without the mandate of the Pope carries the penalty of automatic excommunication, both for the bishops performing the ordination and those that receive it.  Cardinal Kung, for the crime of refusing to cooperate in setting up a state-approved church, remained imprisoned for a large part of his life.  He finally was able to come to America where he had family, only see the People’s Republic of China strip him of his citizenship.  He was named a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II and until his death was recognised as the sole, legitimate Bishop of Shanghai. 

Currently, it seems that most of the bishops in China are in communion with the Holy See and are legitimate, Catholic bishops.  Bishop Jin was, it seems, subsequently legitimised following the death of Cardinal Kung.  He helped to engineer the selection of his auxiliary bishop, Bishop Xing Wenzhi, ordained with the approval of the Pope and the Chinese government.  The bishops of Beijing and Guangzhou likewise enjoy papal and government approval.  Bishop Jin is currently 92 years of age.  As we can see from this picture, he seems to favour the use of gloves as well.

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