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A Christmas letter to an embattled bishop


SHANGHAI (SE): A Catholic person in Shanghai has penned a letter to Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, who is currently confined to the seminary at Sheshan on the outskirts of the city, stripped of his status as a bishop and suspended from exercising his priestly ministry for two years by government authorities, telling him that he is not alone, but is very much in the prayers of the faithful people of his diocese.

Writing under the pen name, Little Lamb, the letter, which was posted on AsiaNews, says, “Christmas is coming. I’d like to write you this letter to sincerely wish you a joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year. I trust that the Infant Jesus whom you love will give you more grace—the inner peace and joy that this world cannot offer you.

“Among unforgettable and memorable moments of life, marriage is one. For consecrated people, profession for sisters, priestly ordination for seminarians and episcopal ordination for priests are joyful and blissful moments, as they dedicate their whole lives to the most loving Jesus Christ.”

The Little Lamb says that it is regrettable that the bishop could not share with others his joy in becoming a bishop or receive congratulatory words from others after his episcopal ordination on 7 July 2012.

“Dear Bishop Ma, you are our good bishop. Your steadfastness in faith shows us the specific requirements on how to live the Year of Faith. Certainly, faith is not just a set of beliefs, but a relationship between human beings and God, with sincerity, trust and love. In order to bear witness to our own beliefs, some people are not afraid of imprisonment, not to mention testifying to our faith in the Holy Trinity, our true God!” the writer continues.

“Perhaps, there are people who do not understand our Catholic faith, thinking that our faith has Chinese characteristics. Yet, the fact is that the Catholic faith is one, holy, catholic and apostolic… Dear Bishop Ma, your actions have shown us the loving God is above all things and that we must do everything… even in the face of suffering… You still adhere to your own faith and do not waver. You show tolerance, friendliness and politeness to others at all times. Even when you are held responsible for faults not of your own, you forgive and embrace your opponents or those who hold different opinions. You are well aware that everyone is created in God’s image, and they are all are our brothers and sisters, and are equal,” the letter says.

The writer adds that a new split is beginning to emerge in the Church in China, saying, “Now in our Church in China, some people want to leave the Mother Church, even though the Holy Father, with a loving heart, has extended to them the olive branches again and again, and hopes they will return, they are going further and further away.”

The letter says that there may be hope in the words offered by the general secretary of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping. “His commemorative speech at a congress that marked the 30th anniversary of the promulgation of China’s 1982 Constitution in Beijing on December 4 was encouraging.”

Xi said, “No organisation or individual shall have the privilege to go beyond the constitution and the law… We must act in accordance with the law to treat fairly the people’s appeals, to ensure fairness and justice in each judicial case, as well as not allow unfair trials to hurt people’s sentiments or undermine their rights and interests.”

The writer adds that the Chinese constitution allows freedom of religious belief. “For Catholics, this means that we can enjoy the freedom of the faith of our Church and live in accordance with our Christian responsibilities and obligations. I am convinced that general secretary Xi has been informed that some officials have gone against his promise, and discredited the country and state leaders in the eyes of the world.”

He concludes by telling the bishop that the Church of Shanghai is praying in the words of the motto on his coat of arms, “Be united for the Greater Glory of God.”


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