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Death of key Chinese bishop points to struggle over successor

April 29, 2013

Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai, one of the key figures in the struggle for control of the Catholic Church in China, died on April 17 at the age of 96 after a long struggle with cancer.

In 1955, while serving as rector of the diocesan seminary, Father Jin was imprisoned as the Communist government stepped up its persecution of the Church. He was eventually rehabilitated after his release, and in 1985 he was named a bishop by the government-approved Patriotic Association, without authorization from the Vatican. However, in 2005 he was reconciled with the Holy See.

Bishop Jin occupied a unique and often uncomfortable position in the Chinese Church, frequently straddling the gap between “underground” and “official” Catholics. He led the drive to restore prayers for the Pope to the Eucharistic Prayers in China. Yet in 2010 he was named honorary president of the Patriotic Association: a group whose existence the Vatican has decried.

Last year Bishop Thaddeus Ma Dagin was ordained as an auxiliary in the Shanghai diocese. Archbishop Savio Hon, the secretary of the Congregation for Evangelization, reports that Bishop Ma was designated by the Vatican to become Bishop Jin’s successor. However, at his ordination Bishop Ma publicly repudiated his membership in the Patriotic Association, and in response, Chinese officials stripped him of their recognition as a bishop.

Bishop Ma is now living in isolation, effectively under house arrest. His whereabouts are unknown. He did not attend the funeral for Bishop Jin.


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