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    » 06/22/2012, 00.00

    CHINA - RUSSIA - VATICAN

    Hilarion's act: Russian Orthodox metropolitan meets Chinese excommunicated bishop

    Bernardo Cervellera

    Unlawful bishop of Kunming, Ma Yinglin is the president of the Chinese Catholic Bishops' Conference (which is not recognised by the Catholic Church), and vice president of the CPCA (which is incompatible with the Catholic Church). For some time, Hilarion has been trying to convince Chinese authorities to recognise the country's small Orthodox communities and boost the influence of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Far East. Two plates with watermelon are placed in front of the picture of the pope.

    Rome (AsiaNews) - Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, visited Beijing's National Catholic Seminary on Wednesday. After a brief meeting with faculty and students, he was entertained at length by excommunicated Bishop Ma Yinglin, who was unlawfully ordained bishop of Kunming in 2006. A long-time protégé of the powerful Liu Bainian, honorary president of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), he has also risen to the top of official Church of China. Currently, he is serving as president of the Chinese Catholic Bishops' Conference (which is not recognised by the Catholic Church), and vice president-chairman of the CPCA (which is incompatible with Catholic doctrine). Thanks to certain backers, he had himself appointed rector of Beijing's Catholic Seminary.

    With all these high-sounding titles, Ma Yinglin welcomed the illustrious guest at the entrance of the seminary, taking him personally on a tour of the school. He explained to him the situation of the Catholic Church in China, and asked Metropolitan Hilarion to "convey his greetings" to Patriarch Kirill, as if from one patriarch to another.

    Liu Bainian had hoped to see Ma become the bishop of Beijing (and give him the title of Eastern Patriarch), but the Church in the capital snubbed him, and chose someone else.

    With all these titles, Ma Yinglin is spending more time in Beijing than in his diocese, where most of the faithful turn away when they see him or leave the church whenever he shows up.

    Despite his excommunication, Ma Yinglin has not stopped trying to participate in Episcopal ordinations, even when he is not invited. His aim is to assert, excommunicated or not, that he is entitled to a place among the bishops.

    Hilarion is not without his own frustrations. For years, Russian Orthodox have tried to have their small community recognised. They have tried to get the support of Russia. It is not pure coincidence that Hilarion's visit comes a few weeks after Vladimir Putin was in the Chinese capital for the signing of trading and partnership agreements between Russia and China. Although a Russian-Chinese advisory group was set up a year ago to vet the issue, there has been no movement in the issue so far.

    The photos taken during the visit, posted on the Moscow patriarchate website, betray Hilarion's frustration and embarrassment.

    In one, the metropolitan is seen sitting on one side and Ma Yinglin on the other, with some drinks (mineral water and tea), a flower display and a plate with a smiling Benedict XVI on a coffee table, in between. No message could be clearer: We are thinking about you. We have not forgotten you. You are one of us; we are with you.

    The photo conveys a degree of contempt for the pope's authority. Indeed, Ma Yinglin appears to prefer a silent image of Benedict XVI to the words of the Holy See. When the Vatican wrote to him, urging him not to accept his ordination, he turned a deaf ear.

    Hilarion, who played music for Benedict XVI during a visit to the Vatican in 2009, has forgotten that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are 'sister Churches'. Dealing with an excommunicated bishop is not a sign of communion.

    What Hilarion and the Moscow Patriarchate are trying to do is to obtain China's recognition before the Patriarchate of Constantinople does. Based in Hong Kong, the latter is trying to establish relations with all Orthodox communities in the People's Republic and the Far East.

    This explains why Hilarion and Ma Yinglin have to put Benedict XVI out of their mind, even a silent one, and why the close-up of their photo does not show the pope but two plates with red watermelon.

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    See also

    05/02/2016 18:30:00 RUSSIA – VATICAN
    For Russian Patriarchate, the “genocide of the Christian population” made the Kirill-Francis meeting urgent

    Metropolitan Hilarion told a press conference that despite unresolved issues such like the expansion of the Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchate hopes that the meeting "will open a new page in the relations between the two Churches”.



    03/09/2011 RUSSIA – VATICAN
    Moscow Patriarchate’s “non-interference” to a possible Serbian Orthodox invitation for the pope
    Metropolitan Hilarion reiterates Moscow’s position but, for months, rumours say the Russian Orthodox Church is opposed to Benedict XVI’s presence in Niš in 2013 to mark the anniversary of Constantine’s edict because it could provide an opportunity for a meeting between the Russian patriarch and the pontiff.

    02/03/2007 RUSSIA – VATICAN
    Kirill might accompany Putin to see Pope, says Orthodox bishop
    In an interview with AsiaNews the Orthodox Bishop of Vienna and Austria, Hilarion, discusses the positive evolution of relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Vatican. He adds that having Benedict XVI and Bartholomew I in Ravenna together would be at odds with Orthodoxy’s hierarchy.

    22/10/2015 RUSSIA – VATICAN
    For Moscow Patriarchate, Orthodox and Catholics should join efforts to defend the traditional family
    Metropolitan Hilarion spoke at the Synod on the Family currently underway in the Vatican, calling for greater dialogue between the Church and those who exercise executive and legislative power. However, despite policies promoting 'traditional values', the family is threatened in Russia as well.

    08/04/2010 CHINA – VATICAN
    Bishop placed under house arrest for refusing to co-celebrate Mass with excommunicated bishop
    The bishop was officially installed today, but refused to co-celebrate Mass with Ma Yinglin, who was ordained in 2006 without the permission of the Holy See. Forced to attend the ceremony, the bishop was still able to say publicly that he was taking part in the ceremony against his will.



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