Rome (AsiaNews) - The situation for China's Church and bishops "remains serious". At present, the Vatican "has no further information" about Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin's fate. As sources told AsiaNews yesterday, Shanghai's coadjutor bishop was stripped of his Episcopal title by the illegal Chinese Bishops' Council, this according Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office.
During his Episcopal ordination (approved by the pope), Shanghai's brave bishop refused the laying of the hands and the communion from Mgr Zhan Silu, bishop of Mindong (Fujian), who is not recognised by the Holy See.
On that same occasion, the new bishops also quit the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, an act that received a long ovation from the faithful present. However, right afterwards, he was placed under house arrest by the authorities at the diocesan seminary, near the Marina shrine of Sheshan, where he is still being held.
In response to a question, Fr Lombardi said the Holy See's position on the Chinese Church was authoritatively expressed recently in an extensive article by Cardinal Filoni, published in the journal Tripod, and reprinted by AsiaNews.
The "situation remains serious," the cardinal wrote. "Some bishops and priests are segregated or deprived of their liberty, as recently happened in the case of the Bishop of Shanghai, Ma Daqin, for declaring his intention to dedicate himself full-time to the pastoral ministry, laying aside offices that, among other things, are not even within the competence of a pastor."
"Control over people and institutions has intensified, and recourse is had more readily to indoctrination sessions and pressure. In the absence of freedom of religion or in the presence of strong limitations, does it not pertain to the whole Church to defend the legitimate rights of Chinese faithful, and primarily to the Holy See to give voice to those who have none?"