Shanghai (AsiaNews) - The civil memorial service took place this morning of the official bishop of Shanghai, Msgr. Aloysius Jin Luxian, who died aged 97 on April 27. The diocese has received a message from the Vatican and one from the Diocese of Hong Kong, but they were not made public today.
funeral was held in the Cathedral of St. Ignatius in Xujiahui on 29
April. Msgr. Thaddeus
Ma Daqin, auxiliary bishop of the diocese, was unable to attend. He has been under forced house arrest since deciding
to quit the Patriotic Association. The
funeral, however, was also exempted from the presence of illegitimate bishops,
allowing faithful and priests to participate without undue concerns.
Today's ceremony was attended by government authorities, a hundred priests and about 2 thousand people, all gathered in Longhua in the great funeral hall. After a few speeches by the authorities, a lengthy eulogy was given by Fr. Ignatius Wu Jianlin, head of the Coordination Committee of the diocesan (see photo). The same Fr. Jianlin had presided over the funeral mass. He had been appointed by Msgr. Jin after the arrest of Mgr. Ma
At the end of
the speeches, the authorities led the kowtow, the triple bow before the body
which was placed it on a bier surrounded by flowers. Each official placed a
single red carnation on the bier. Then,
all those present, in rows 10 deep, bowed down in turn and laid a red carnation. After the ceremony, the
body was cremated.
The situation of the Church of Shanghai remains difficult. The official Council of Bishops, under pressure from the Patriotic Association, has stripped the title of Bishop of Shanghai from Msgr. Ma, but it does not have the authority to do so, particularly given that the Holy See does not recognize the Council (which does not include underground bishops). For the Vatican, and most faithful of the diocese, Msgr. Ma is still the bishop of the metropolis.
Both the Vatican
and the Diocese of Hong Kong has sent messages to the diocese of brotherhood
and condolences, devoid of any controversy.
From the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Msgr. Savio Hon - a personal friend of Msgr. Jin - wrote of his sorrow at the death of the bishop and his displeasure at not being able to attend the funeral, although he was "present in spirit."
Archbishop Hon also recalled that Pope Francis had been warned of the health conditions of Msgr. Jin and had prayed for him. In a veiled reference to the absence of Mgr. Ma Daqin, the Secretary of Propaganda Fide writes: " I was deeply moved by the pictures of the funeral Mass of Bishop JIN. There are so many familiar faces and my thoughts go out to all of you, my dear Brothers and Sisters, and, in a special way, to my dear brother Bishop Daqin, who was also with you in spirit. The Church, like a choir, is in need of a good conductor, so as to turn the Gospel into a beautiful song".
Tong, Bishop of Hong Kong, has also sent a message in which he "thoughts and prayers to the
prelates, all the clergy and the faithful of the Shanghai diocese and pray that
God will give them strength to follow His will, to uphold our Catholic
tradition, teaching and canonicity of the universal Church; and continue to
promote unity, communion and development within the Church; as well as
promoting evangelization and serving society as faithful witnesses of the love
of God ".
Both messages commend the deceased bishop and the community to the protection of Our Lady of Sheshan, the national Marian shrine, near Shanghai.
May 24th is the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan, a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of Chinese during the whole month of May. Until last year the bishops of Shanghai made the pilgrimage together with the faithful, then celebrated Mass in the sanctuary. This year, with the death of Msgr. Jin, the detention of Msgr. Ma the illness of Msgr. Fan (the underground bishop, not recognized by the government), there will be no bishop to preside over the mass.
Since 2008, after his Letter to Chinese Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI has established that May 24 is also the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, where people are called to pray that the unity between underground and official Christians and communion with the successor of Peter be strengthened, also asking the Lord for the strength to persevere in Christian witness, even amid the suffering of persecution.