CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 July 2019

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Bishop skips retirement Mass

HONG KONG (UCAN): Bishop Zhuang Jianjian from the unofficial Church in Shantou did not attend his own retirement Mass after not agreeing to retire.
 
The 88-year-old bishop attended a retirement ceremony held by the Diocese of Shantou but said he did not attend a Mass celebrated by his replacement, Bishop Huang Bingzhang, who was excommunicated until he was accepted by Pope Francis following the Sino-Vatican provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops was signed last September.
 
According to chinacatholic.cn, a website run by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC), the retirement ceremony-cum-Mass was held on January 22 at Hepo Catholic Church in Jiexi County in Jieyang City in Shantou.
 
The retirement ceremony was hosted by Bishop Paul Su Yongda of Zhanjiang. Bishop Joseph Shen Bin, the CCPA and BCCCC vice-president read out the approval from the BCCCC naming Bishop Zhuang as Shantou’s emeritus bishop, then Bishop Zhuang and Bishop Huang both delivered addresses.
 
The website reported that the Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Huang together with Bishop Shen, Bishop Su, Bishop Joseph Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou, Bishop Joseph Liao Hongqing of Meizhou and Bishop Paul Liang Jiansen of Jiangmen.
 
A Vatican delegation travelled to China in December 2018 to oversee the placement of formerly illicit bishops into dioceses that had been run by unofficial bishops.
 
Bishop Zhuang said on 17 December 2018 that he had visited Beijing and that Holy See representative, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, had asked him to retire, but he had not replied.
 
One person from the unofficial community observed that most of the priests who support Bishop Zhuang were told by authorities not to attend either event.
 
A priest said: “They (the officials) are scared to death if we attend, so we are banned.”
 
Over 30 priests, deacons, brothers, nuns and over 200 Catholics and guests from Guangdong attended.
 
A source, named Peter, said government officials and the bishops of Guangdong met before the Mass to declare that Bishop Zhuang was recognised as a bishop, but he was retired “since this is the decision of Rome.”
 
Peter said the Mass had three implications: Bishop Huang was now diocesan bishop; Bishop Zhuang had retired; and the BCCCC and Guangdong provincial CCPA and BCCCC recognised Bishop Zhuang as a bishop.
 
Meanwhile, a Catholic source in Shantou reported that Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, the former bishop of Hong Kong, had written in his blog on January 21 that he received news from Shantou last year about the letter sent by the Holy See to Bishop Zhuang stating that “he still can continue to take care of his priests.”
 
The source said, “It means this is like a structure of personal jurisdiction in the Church. Bishop Zhuang continues to lead his priests … but Catholics are under the governance of the diocese, so why did Shantou Diocese still hold the retirement ceremony?”

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