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Chinese bishops seeking support for reconciliation

HONG KONG (UCAN): Three members of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, a body that is not recognised by the Holy See, were in the United States of America (US) during the same week that Pope Francis and the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, were visiting the country.

The president of the conference, Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin, and his two vice-presidents, Bishop John Baptist Yang Xiaoting and Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu, spent 10 days in the US at the invitation of several universities and Church congregations.

John Worthley, a former deputy chancellor of Seton Hall University in New Jersey and an expert on the Church in China who has taught public management at Chinese universities for more than 25 years, described their visit as a “holy pilgrimage to seek reconciliation with the universal Church.”

Worthley added that a senior American bishop was given a bible to present to Pope Francis, bearing a message saying, “We love you, we pray for you, we wait for you in China.”

The message was signed by the three bishops.

Bishop Ma gave a public lecture at The Divinity School of Yale University on September 17. Tom Krattenmaker, the director of communications, said that Bishop Ma spoke about the history of Christianity in China.

“We are fully aware that the Catholic Church in China is a complex and contested matter. Our hosting of a speaker, such as Bishop Ma Yinglin, does not represent an endorsement, but rather, our desire to give our students an opportunity to learn about the issues from a source who is directly involved in what all acknowledge to be a complex set of relationships,” Krattenmaker pointed out.

Bishop Ma and Bishop Zhan were both ordained bishops illicitly, without a mandate from the Vatican, while Bishop Yang was ordained with both papal approval and government recognition in March 2011.

“At each stop they have professed their love for the Holy Father, their solidarity with the universal Church and their heartache over the obstacles to realising the prayer of Christ in Gethsemane that they all be one,” Worthley explained.

He added that the three Chinese bishops “are seeking the help of the American Church in the reconciliation effort.”


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