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Chinese bishop rejoins Patriotic Association; regime still withholds recognition

January 26, 2017

Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin of Shanghai has rejoined the Catholic Patriotic Association, which he had denounced in 2012, the AsiaNews service reports. However, the regime still evidently does not recognize his status as a bishop.

Bishop Ma created a sensation in July 2012 when, during the ceremony at which he was ordained as a bishop, he announced that he was dropping his membership in the Patriotic Association. (The Vatican has said that the group, which claims authority over the Church in China, is incompatible with Catholic teaching.) In response, the government-backed Bishops’ Council revoked its recognition of this authority as a bishop. Prevented from exercising his episcopal authority, Bishop Ma has lived quietly in a seminary, constantly under surveillance, since that time.

Last year, however, Bishop Ma again caused shock waves when he issued a statement apologizing for “errors of words and deeds against the Patriotic Association.” He said that he regretted his past denunciation of the group, and hoped to use “concrete actions” to demonstrate his willingness to cooperate.

Now the Shanghai chapter of the Patriotic Association has announced that Ma is a “supplemental member” of its executive committee. Signicantly, though, the announcement lists him as “Father Ma Daqin,” not as a bishop.

Chinese Catholics loyal to the Vatican remain puzzled by the bishop’s decision to rejoin the Patriotic Association. Some speculate that he acted under duress. Others believe that he was encouraged by the Vatican to soften his stand—a suggestion that Vatican officials have denied.

 
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