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Bishop Ma stripped of mitre and crosier


HONG KONG (SE): Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin was stripped of his mitre and crosier at a two-day standing committee meeting of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, which concluded in Beijing on December 12.

Bishop Ma incurred the wrath of Beijing when he publicly announced his resignation from the government-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association at his ordination as an auxiliary bishop of Shanghai on July 7.

He has been under house arrest at Sheshan seminary on the outskirts of the city ever since, forbidden to have contact with the outside world and, since the seminary has also been closed for the duration, devoid of contact even with the student priests.

Although a few people have managed to visit him, he has been barred from concelebrating Mass with his brother priests at the seminary and was recently told he may not serve as a priest in a pastoral situation for two years.

UCA News reported that Joseph Liu Yuanlong, a vice chairperson of the Patriotic Association, confirmed the revocation of Bishop Ma’s position in Shanghai diocese, as well as all positions that he held in the bishops’ conference and the Patriotic Association.

The revocation announcement refers to him as the coadjutor bishop of Shanghai, a title conferred by the government, whereas the Church regards the ageing Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian as being coadjutor to the unofficial community’s Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang.

It had been presumed that Bishop Ma would eventually become the bishop of both the official and unofficial communities and be bishop to all Catholics in Shanghai.

Among the charges laid against Bishop Ma by the bishops’ conference is what is termed his refusal to distinguish his exact position as auxiliary or coadjutor in public.

UCA News reports that in all, six charges were laid against him, including preventing an illegitimate bishop from laying hands on him during his ordination ceremony.

In a bit of fancy footwork, Bishop Ma broke custom, jumping to his feet after the three co-ordaining bishops had laid hands and offering a sign of peace to the approaching concelebrating bishops, including Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu, from Mindong, who does not have papal approval.

He is also charged with not uttering his oath as a bishop clearly and deliberately messing around with the public address system so only a select few on the inner circle could hear exactly what was said, as well as blocking the concelebrating bishops from receiving communion at the normal time during the Mass.

He was also accused of orchestrating the mass no show of many of the priests and sisters in Shanghai at the ordination. Finally, he was told that in announcing that he would quit the Patriotic Association, he had caused scandal and had a damaging influence on others.

“This violence and abuse against religious freedom only generates criticism of China from the international community. Our country, which has made such great strides in the modern world, does not deserve to be demeaned in this way because of this style,” the secretary to the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai, reflected in speaking to the Vatican Insider.

He added that he hopes the new leadership under Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang will revise the country’s approach to religious freedom and relations between Church and state, “Without using the traditional methods of the past, which are no good for anyone, do not create harmony within the Chinese Church or society, or in international relations.”

However, Vatican Insider reported on December 12 that little will change. It says, “This vision is also shared by the Vatican and the United States of America.” It says that the writing was on the wall when in the lead up to the change of power, they showed no particular signs of openness towards greater freedom.

The Vatican-based news agency quotes the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Fernando Cardinal Filoni, as saying, “There has been a tighter monitoring of people and institutions and indoctrination and pressure are becoming more and more frequent.”


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