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China visit by Macau delegation gets minimum mention

HONG KONG (UCAN): Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang, the bishop of Macau, led a 12-member delegation on a May 29 to June 2 visit to Beijing. The occasion was largely downplayed by religious officials in the Chinese capital.
The delegation from Macau aimed to learn more about the state of seminary formation, pastoral care, parish work and educational activities of the Church on the mainland, and to “promote mutual understanding and exchange.”
It visited three seminaries, two churches, two primary schools in Beijing and neighbouring Hebei province, as well as making a call on the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA).
Bishop Lee was received by Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, and vice chairperson of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) at the national seminary on May 30.
The Vatican does not recognise either the bishops’ conference or the Patriotic Association, while Bishop Ma has no papal mandate.
A report in the June 9 issue of the weekly diocesan newspaper of Macau, O Clarim, referred to Bishop Ma as the seminary’s rector while Chinese reports addressed him by the title of bishop. 
However, the report from SARA made only a brief mention of the visit saying that Bishop Lee and Chen Zhongrong, vice director of SARA, “exchanged views on the development of the Catholic Church in Macau and the promotion of Catholic exchanges between the two places.”
One Catholic commentator in China, who asked not to be named, said the report played down the visit due to Bishop Lee’s views on the Church in China.
“The single-paragraph report with only two sentences shows that SARA was giving the cold shoulder to Bishop Lee, who said in an earlier interview that the CCPA and the other government-controlled Church organisations go against a China-Vatican agreement because of money and job prospects,” the commentator said.
The delegation also met with Bishop Joseph Li Shan, from Beijing, who invited Bishop Lee to visit again once the diocesan curia had moved to the Church of the Saviour, also known as the North Cathedral, by the end of the year.

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