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» 07/25/2007
CHINA
The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association celebrates 50 years at a less than ideal moment
Founded on August 2, 1957, the association is less and less able to serve its original purpose, namely to manage the Catholic community on behalf of the government. Some 5,000 invited guests are expected for the celebrations but many will be absent.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) will celebrate 50 years on August 2. Some 5,000 people have been invited for the occasion, but quite a few of the would-be guests will find the right excuse or the courage not to go. In the meantime, both official and underground bishops, priests and faithful are under tighter controls, which shows the uniqueness of the Chinese Church, as Pope Benedict XVI himself recognised in his Letter to Chinese Catholics.

This is not a good time for the powerful CPCA. Created by the Religious Affairs Bureau of the People’s Republic for the purpose of introducing party ideals into the Catholic Church, it can now boast more than 3,000 secretaries, deputy secretaries and bureau chiefs, plus many more office workers. All these people are in charge of about 5 million Catholic members of the official Church. They appoint bishops, give “advice” as to who should be priests, evaluate male and female vocations for seminaries and convents, and supervise diocesan administrations.

In such a supervisory role they have often been accused by underground Catholics of pilfering  diocesan property on their own behalf and that of public and private firms and businessmen.

But for Catholics loyal to the Pope, the CPCA is the “enemy”. In his recent letter Benedict XVI unequivocally condemned the association. Explicitly mentioned only in a footnote (nº 36), the CPCA is treated as one of those “entities, desired by the State and extraneous to the structure of the Church,” which placed “themselves above the Bishops [. . .] to guide the life of the ecclesial community,” something which “does not correspond to Catholic doctrine.”

Similarly, the Pope refers to the CPCA when he talks about “persons who are not ‘ordained’, and sometimes not even baptized,” and who “control and take decisions concerning important ecclesial questions, including the appointment of Bishops (nº 8), and when he warns that “[c]ommunion and unity [. . .] are essential and integral elements of the Catholic Church: therefore the proposal for a Church that is ‘independent’ of the Holy See, in the religious sphere, is incompatible with Catholic doctrine” (nº 8).

The Pope’s opposition is based theologically on the notions of communion, hierarchy and Petrine primacy, which clearly contradict a statement made by the CPCA’s strongman, deputy chairman Liu Bainian, a member of the laity who in an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica claimed instead that there was “not a shadow of theological controversy” when he spoke about the relations between the CPCA and the Holy See, going as far as expressing a hope that the Pope might visit Beijing.

 

A “hope” which yesterday Benedict XVI would not comment.  When journalists, who are following the Pope’s period of rest among the mountains of Cadore, broached him on the subject, he limited himself to respond: “I cannot speak on the issue and the moment.  The situation is quite complicated and now there is not sufficient time”.

 

The fact is that there is an ongoing tug of war between the Vatican and AP,  despite the open hand of friendship extended to the Chinese government in the form of the Pope’s Letter.

 

However, should the government opt to normalise relations with the Holy See for whatever reason, Liu Bainian’s head would be the first to roll.

Some 50 years after the People’s Republic set up various religious patriotic associations, such entities have become obsolete. According to an official study released earlier this year, their influence is waning, limited to only about a third of the 300 million Chinese who are officially classified as members of religions.

Increasingly they are no longer capable of guaranteeing the much vaunted “social harmony” with which President Hu Jintao wants to build a fairer China and achieve a more balanced development. (FP)

 


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See also
07/24/2007 CHINA – VATICAN
Cardinal Zen warns against confusion surrounding the Pope’s letter to Chinese Catholics
07/02/2007 CHINA – VATICAN
Subdued but predictable reactions in China to Pope’s letter
10/21/2010 CHINA - VATICAN
Card. Zen’s visit to Shanghai may be a trap set by Beijing
by Card. Joseph Zen Zekiun, sdb
06/30/2007 VATICAN – CHINA
Vatican to the conquest of a changing China
04/20/2007 CHINA
Patriotic Church bishop critically ill

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Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
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Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
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Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

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