CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 August 2019

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Auxiliary bishop of Mindong pressured to toe party line

HONG KONG (UCAN): Bishop Vincent Guo Xijin, now auxiliary bishop of Mindong, has indicated that there is uncertainty as to whether he will concelebrate Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday unless he agrees to state policy on the Catholic Church in China
 
The former bishop of Mindong, was asked to step aside by the Vatican in favour of the government-recognised Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu—one of seven formerly excommunicated bishops—following the Sino-Vatican provisional agreement of 22 September 2019.
 
The government officials said in clarity that they do not recognise me as a bishop,” Bishop Guo said.
 
The bishop said he has been told that recognition would only when he applied to join the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) and its Church affairs committee at the provincial level. 
 
 “This needs to be done after declaring my acceptance of the policy of an independent, autonomous and self-run Church,” he said. “They said: ‘You are not sincere enough and therefore we cannot recognise your identity’.”
 
The 59-year-old bishop said he is not caving in to official pressure.
 
Bishop Guo was the Vatican-approved bishop of the unofficial Church in Mindong which covers the city of Ningde in Fujian province, southeastern China.
 
Bishop Zhan said concelebrating the Chrism Mass depended on Bishop Guo, but added that the government makes the decisions.
 
 “When Bishop Guo smoothes out his relations with the government, there will be no problem,” he said. 
 
The bishop’s current situation has upset many laypeople and priests in the diocese.
 
In a recent interview, Bishop Guo said he felt constrained in his ministry.
 
 “No one is sure about anything which happens in China. We can only make a small step forward when there is a tiny space available,” the bishop said.
 
“We are not very optimistic but when we fix our eyes on God, we will find no problem. Whatever God allows, it would have been the best that happens,” he said.

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