Beijing (AsiaNews) –The eighth National Assembly of Catholic Representatives has elected the new leaders of government-controlled organisations. The unlawfully nominated bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin (pictured) of Kunming is the new president of the government-sanctioned Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC), whilst Bishop Fang Xinyao of Linyi (Shandong) is the new head of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA). The assembly, the conference and the association are all irreconcilable with the Catholic faith.
Bishop Fang Xinyao of Linyi, unlawfully appointed Zhan Silu of Mindong, Fang Jianping of Tangshan, Li Shan of Beijing, Pei Junmin of Liaoning and Yang Xiaoting of Yan’an are the BCCCC’s new vice presidents. Guo Jincai, who was unlawfully appointed bishop of Chengde, becomes the new BCCCC secretary general, a post formerly held by Bishop Ma.
The CCPA collective vice presidency includes bishops Ma Yinglin, Guo Jincai, Shen Bin of Haimen, Meng Qinglu of Hohhot; Fathers Lei Shiyin of Leshan, Huang Bingzhang of Shantou, Yue Fusheng of Harbin as well as Sister Wu Lin of Hubei province and layperson Shu Nanwu of Nanchang.
Former CCPA vice-president Anthony Liu Bainian becomes honorary president of both the BCCCC and the CCPA, together with the elderly Mgr Jin Luxian di Shanghai.
Bishops Tu Shihua of Huangshi, Liu Jinghe of Tangshan, Li Mingshu of Qingdao and Yu Runchen of Hanzhong, and laypeople Yu Jiadi of Anhui, Lu Guocun of Guangdong, Zhou Xiaowu of Shanghai, Liu Deshen of Chongqing are named advisers to the CCPA and the BCCCC.
Two members of the new leadership are bishops ordained this year with a papal mandate; one was ordained unlawfully.
In his closing address, Ma Yinglin said that the new leadership of the CCPA and the BCCCC would unite China’s Catholics behind the principles of autonomy, self-management and democracy to lead the Church, marching together with the universal Church to be God’s witnesses. “Catholics,” he said, “can write a new chapter in the patriotic work of the China Church.”
Speaking to AsiaNews about a new leadership full of unlawfully ordained bishops, some Catholics expressed serious concerns that with unlawfully ordained prelates now acting as president, a vice-president and a secretary general, additional unlawful ordinations will take place in the future.
A priest noted that whilst the Church has always been under the control of the CCPA, the latest events—unlawful ordinations, assembly and new leadership—suggest that the government might be deliberately trying to cause chaos within the Church.
If this is the case, the situation might make the Episcopal nomination process in communion with the Holy Father that more difficult for the Vatican, a source told AsiaNews.
Another priest said the Church seems to have gone back to the old days when government exercised tight controls over its activities. He also said that he wondered why the government did not dare allow those bishops in communion with the pope to head the Bishops’ Conference.
According to the State Administration for Religious Affairs website, the assembly reviewed the Catholic Church’s work of the past six years, outlined the tasks and objectives for the next five years, and passed revisions to the constitutions of the CCPA and the BCCCC.