04/16/2017, 12.10
CHINA - VATICAN
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A victory for the Patriotic Association: Illicit Bishop Zhan Silu concelebrates with Bishop Ma Daqin of Shanghai

by Bernardo Cervellera

Zhan Silu was ordained in 2000. Ma Daqin, still under house arrest, but could "visit the Diocese of Mindong," where the ordinary bishop, Msgr. Guo Xijin, has disappeared in police custody. In the ceremony, Ma Daqin was called "bishop" and not "father" as before. The Patriotic Association undisputed master of the Church in China. "The Vatican is a joke".  The PA attempts to destroy dialogue between the Holy See and the government.

Rome (AsiaNews) - "It's big news, but also news of great sadness". "The Vatican is being mocked by the Patriotic Association": These are the first hot comments on the news that is going viral online with a series of photos: Illicit Bishop Vincenzo Zhan Silu of Mindong concelebrating the Easter morning Mass with Msgr. Thaddeus Ma Daqin, Bishop of Shanghai,  together with two priests.

The news is that Zhan Silu is an illegitimate bishop - self-ordained in 2000 and took office in 2006 - who still awaits reconciliation with the Holy See. Meanwhile his career has led him to becoming vice-president of the Chinese Bishops Council at the Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives last December.

Thaddeus Ma Daqin, ordained bishop by the Holy See with government agreement in 2012, was put under house arrest soon after having resigned from the Patriotic Association (PA). Later he seems to have recanted his position by publishing several articles in favor of the PA. For this, while still confined to isolation in the seminary of Sheshan, he was able to participate in some meetings, but has always been presented as "Father Ma," and not as a bishop.

This time, at the concelebration in Mindong, he was presented to the faithful as "Bishop Ma Daqin," visiting the Diocese of Mindong. The people welcomed him with a long applause.

It is important to remember that in the days before Easter, the ordinary bishop of Mindong, Msgr. Vincent Guo Xijin, belonging to the underground community, was seized by security forces to force him to "learn and study." He is recognized by the Holy See and not by the government.

It is very likely that Msgr. Guo has been arrested because he has opposed the celebration, which was supposed to involve all three Zhan, Ma and Guo. In fact, the PA directive, repeated many times, is that the PA (and the Ministry of Religious Affairs) decides who are “valid" bishops, not the Vatican. For this reason, the PA continues to meddle in celebrations involving licit and illicit bishops, excommunicated and in communion with the Pope, as has happened in the past ordinations of Chengdu and Xichang.

As for the "mockery" of the Vatican, "it must be said that - as Card. John Tong explained in his article - the Holy See is seeking the way to an agreement on the appointment of bishops, but reconciliation with illicit bishops takes place according to internal arrangements to the Holy See, and according to canon law. But apparently, the PA does not care about canon law or obedience to the pope. Neither does it seems to care about dialogue between the government and the Holy See. Rather these moves seek to undermine the dialogue and make them fail by presenting both the Chinese government and the Holy See with a fait accompli: the celebration of its power over the Church and bishops.

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