06/07/2021, 13.06
CHINA – VATICAN
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Four deacons ordained priests in Shanghai, one stopped by the government

by Bernardo Cervellera

The fifth ordinand is guilty of taking part in World Youth Day in 2016. For detained Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, “The seeds planted are now in full bloom and now know joy.” The patriotic Church is trying to “sinicise” China’s Catholicism and promote  Xi Jinping’s “New Era”

Rome – The Diocese of Shanghai has four new priests. Ordained on Saturday, they were supposed to be five, but one deacon was not ordained on government orders because he attended on his own World Youth Day, in Krakow (Poland), from 25 to 31 July 2016.

For this reason, although he was ordained deacon a day earlier, Friday, together with the other four, he saw his priestly ordination put on hold until a later date.

The ordination ceremony was held in St Ignatius Cathedral (Xujiahui). Bishop Joseph Shen Bin, vice president of the Council of Bishops and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), led the Mass.

Bishop Shen Bin is in charge of Haimen (Jiangsu), a nearby diocese; he was recognised by both the Holy See and the Chinese government when he was ordained in 2010.

Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin of Shanghai could not attend the service. He was placed under house arrest at the Sheshan seminary in 2012 after he resigned from the CPCA. Since then, he has not been allowed to have any contact with the public or exercise any episcopal functions.

In addition to the relatives of the ordinands, the ceremony saw the presence of civil and religious authorities, many priests and nuns from the local diocese. Only a few believers were able to attend.

Due to anti-COVID regulations, the church could accommodate only a limited number of people who had to wear masks and keep a strict social distance.

The four new priests are: Fr John Ning Yongwang, 30, from Baotou (Inner Mongolia); Fr John Zhou Jia, 34, from Bayanzhuoer (Inner Mongolia); Fr Matthew Mi Jizhou, 29, from Xingtai (Hebei); and Fr Francis Wu Shun, 31, from Jinzhong (Shanxi).

The deacon whose ordination was not allowed is Paul Yang Dongdong, 34, from Nantiangong (Lucheng, Shanxi).

“They stopped him only because he went to participate in World Youth Day,” said a Catholic man speaking about Deacon Yang’s exclusion from the priesthood (hopefully only temporarily).

“Usually an ordination is stopped when the ordinand has done some base things, or does not live the faith properly. But in this case, he (Yang) and other young Catholics from around the world simply went to meet Pope Francis. Thus it seems that in China having relations with the Pope and the rest of the Church is a sin.”

Bishop Ma Daqin, whose personal blog has been censored for years, managed to send a short message on WeChat (the Chinese Whatsapp). “Today is a beautiful day,” he writes. “Four new priests have been added to the Diocese of Shanghai: Fr Ning Yongwang, Fr Zhou Jia, Fr Mi Jizhou, Fr Wu Shun, plus Yang Dongdong, a deacon of the sixth class. Let us give thanks to God for rewarding us with five more workers in God's field, with priests for the younger generations of the Church and spiritual fathers of the faithful.

“I give my sincere offering to the Lord. I give offerings  of thanksgiving and the rosary to the new priests and to the new deacon. I pray that God's grace will always be with them. I also pray that God will grant us more priests, more nuns and more vocations. The seeds planted are now in full bloom and now know joy. May God be forever praised.”

After Bishop Ma was placed under house arrest, the Sheshan seminary was closed. Only in 2017 did priestly ordinations resume.

Last Friday, before the five candidates were ordained into the diaconate, Bishop Shen Bin gave a lecture on “Adhering to the sinicisation of Catholicism and doing a good job at teaching the New Era.”

“Sinicisation” and “New Era” are two slogans by President Xi Jinping with an ultimate goal of setting up a national church closely linked to Chinese culture and the Communist Party, and supporting a “New Era” in which China outclasses the nations of the world.

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