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No major changes at government-backed Chinese Catholic assembly

December 28, 2016

The Ninth Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives has re-elected the incumbent leaders of China’s most powerful Catholic organizations, indicating that no significant changes in policy are anticipated, the AsiaNews service reports.

Bishop Ma Yinglin—who is not recognized by the Vatican—was re-elected to a new 5-year term as president of the Chinese bishops’ council. Bishop Fang Xingyao, who is recognized by both the Vatican and Beijing, was re-elected to his own 5-year term as president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

The Holy See does not recognize the legitimacy of either the Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives or the Patriotic Association. However the Vatican allowed Chinese bishops to attend this year’s meeting of the Assembly, evidently hoping for some movement toward agreement on the question of appointment of new bishops: a question that has blocks an agreement between Beijing and Rome.

Earlier this month the Vatican had said that Chinese Catholics were “waiting with trepidation for some positive signs that can help them to have faith in dialogue between civil authorities and the Holy See and to hope for a future of unity and harmony.” No such signs were evident at the Assembly meeting. In his address to the assembly, Wang Zuoan, the government’s minister for religious affairs, stressed the importance of “an independent and self-governing” Catholic Church, reiterating Beijing’s insistence that the Church in China should not be controlled by Rome.


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jan. 01, 2017 8:14 PM ET USA

    "'An independent and self-governing' Catholic Church;" i.e., a local or national church. Pretty much belies the Catholic notion of "universal." Throughout the history of the Church, we see nearly countless movements of "independence" and "self governance." Even though some of these are now referred to as "ecclesial communities," they are not, nor ever were, Churches in the technical sense. The Chinese drive for a national "Catholic" church is thus doomed to division, for it cannot be catholic.