CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 21 July 2018

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Shanghai priest appointed to political committee

SHANGHAI (AsiaNews): Father Ignatius Wu Jianlin, a priest at the head of the team that leads the diocese of Shanghai, was recently appointed a member of 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). 
 
The incumbent standing committee announced the 2,158 newly-approved members on January 24. The meeting also passed a draft timetable and agenda for the first session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee, which is usually scheduled for March. Out of the 67 members from the religious sector, Father Wu is the only new Catholic member out of nine.
 
The eight who were renamed include, Bishop John Fang Xinyao of Linyi, Bishop Paul Lei Shiyin of Leshan, Bishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing, Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming, Bishop Paul Meng Qinglu of Hohhot, Bishop Joseph Shen Bin of Haimin and Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu of Mindong as well as Liu Yuanlong, a lay person. All hold positions in either the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association or the bishops’ conference, neither of which is recognised by the Vatican.
 
Father Wu is the dean of the downtown deanery and the convener of a five-member management team for the Shanghai diocese established shortly before the death of Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian in 2013. 
 
Traditionally, Catholic clergy who are named to the National People’s Congress or the CPPCP are bishops or priests who are slated to become bishops with or without approval from the Vatican.
 
Father Wu’s nomination to the CPPCC is viewed as a sign that he might eventually become bishop of Shanghai, where the Vatican-approved Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin has only limited freedom from house arrest to attend government-hosted meetings and is still not allowed to exercise his episcopal ministry.
 
The Communist Party has repeatedly stressed the need to strengthen a reliable patriotic force in the religious sector. “It would find it hard to trust Bishop Ma anymore,” a source in Shanghai—who only gave the name Peter—said.
 
“He denounced the Catholic Patriotic Association at his episcopal ordination in 2012 but then turned volte-face and praised the organisation in his 2016 article,” Peter said, adding, “Wu will likely become the head of the diocese and Ma will stay as the auxiliary.” 
 
Another source, who requested anonymity, pointed out that there is another priest, returned from aboard, who is widely believed to be favoured by the Holy See as possible bishop candidate in the Shanghai. “If Father Wu is to be made a bishop in the future instead of that priest, it will be another case for the Chinese government and the Holy See to sort out in the negotiations,” he said.

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