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    » 03/22/2010, 00.00


    Mgr. Nugent ordained Archbishop: "He bore the suffering of the Chinese Church"

    Annie Lam

    The new archbishop was ordained by Cardinal. Bertone, while in China many communities (official and otherwise) had special Masses celebrated for the success of his mission. Card. Zen: "It was not always understood, but eventually the faithful will see what he has given China and the Vatican." While in the Vatican the Commission for the Chinese Church meets.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The new Archbishop Eugene Martin Nugent, a former papal representative in China, "bears the fatigues and complaints” and took on “all the heat and burden of the extremely complicated situation” of the Church in China, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun said in his homily at the archbishop’s Thanksgiving Mass on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, one day after his Episcopal Ordination in the Vatican.  

    To celebrate the promotion of the new archbishop, many communities of the Chinese Church - both official and underground - celebrated special masses to pray for Mgr. Nugent as he was being ordained at the Vatican. Meanwhile today at the Vatican, the new session of the Commission's work on China begins.  

    The Commission, created in 2007, is formed by some department heads of the Roman Curia, representatives of the Chinese Church and members of religious congregations. The work, which will end Wednesday, will affect the human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation of seminarians and consecrated persons, and that of the ongoing formation of priests. There are no sessions on "diplomatic" relations between the Vatican and the Beijing government scheduled.

    Archbishop Nugent, new Nuncio bishops to Madagascar, was ordained by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state. The next day, Mgr. Nugent celebrated his Mass of thanksgiving in the Pauline Chapel of the Basilica of Santa Mary Major. Speaking to the faithful, he said: "It's a great honour for me to become bishop of the Church and the Pope's ambassador. But it's also a great responsibility: that is why I ask you to continue praying for me and with me, so I can continue the mission of the Church". The ten years of work with the Church in China, he added, "I consider one of the greatest blessings that I have been granted in life."  

    According to the card. Zen, "Mgr. Nugent was the de facto Nuncio in China: he arrived in Hong Kong without any diplomatic status, was almost unknown to the Catholic community and to society. For many years he lived and worked in a small apartment, sharing a meal with the religious community next door".

    For years, he added, "he worked with the Chinese church, exchanging letters and messages in a language he could not know," while the Chinese government "did not show him much sympathy." Mgr. Nugent was granted a visa to enter China only once in ten years. One of the most painful moments of his job was to work with people whom he could not meet, through secret correspondence that was run at the risk of the messengers.  

    This form of communication so far from ideal, "caused more suffering to his heart, when in response to his hard work and his loving care came misunderstandings and complaints. Hopefully, when times are better, we will be able to communicate to our brothers and sisters of the mainland the full truth of his love and service that he offered them on a daily basis".  

    Admiring the faith, witness, humility and patience Mgr. Nugent, Card. Zen again expressed his gratitude to the Nuncio with four Chinese characters: "Ren lao ren yuan", they mean "bears hardships and complaints." According to the bishop of Hong Kong, Mgr. John Tong Hon, "the new archbishop is a good and spiritual man, attached to the principles of the Church."

    Since 2000, many dioceses of the Church in China have had to face the issue of Episcopal succession, as many bishops (of 80 or 90 years) have begun to die or have retired. Cases of illicit episcopal ordinations, such as those of 2006, and conflicts between the official and unofficial church have caused much suffering to the representative of the pope.  The ordination of Mgr. Nugent was attended by over 300 people, among them, many Chinese.

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    See also

    26/04/2012 VATICAN - CHINA
    The Church in China needs formed laity and "good bishops"
    The communiqué following the meeting of the Vatican Commission. "Admiration" for bishops and priests detained or limited. The claim of "bodies" to "place themselves above the bishops. Illegitimate episcopal ordinations and legitimate bishops participation in them.

    06/12/2006 HONG KONG – CHINA – VIETNAM
    Card. Zen: “Beijing should learn from Vietnam and be open to religious freedom”
    After a two-day visit in Ho Chi Minh City, the bishop of Hong Kong talked to AsiaNews about the deep faith of the Vietnamese people and the openness of the government towards the Church. He invited China to disavow the Patriotic Association and grant full freedom to its Catholics.

    25/03/2011 CHINA-VATICAN
    Beijing and the Holy See: the unity of the Church before diplomatic relations
    From December until today, despite many difficulties the Church in China has been trying to rebuild the path to unity between official and underground Catholics, dealt a severe blow by Communist Party strategies. The idea of the "Vietnam model". But Beijing’s fear of the "Jasmine Revolution" seems to prevail over interests in seeing reconciliation with the Church and society.

    25/03/2010 VATICAN – CHINA
    Card. Zen appreciates "clarity" and work of the Vatican Commission on the Church in China
    Among most salient points, the stress on communion with the pope, avoiding participation in contradictory meetings, reference to bishops and priests still in prison, the responsibility of Chinese bishops in forming church personnel. Accord and integration among the different members of the Commission.

    30/11/2006 CHINA – VATICAN
    Episcopal ordination in Xuzhou is "indecent and astounding", says Card Zen
    The bishop of Hong Kong stresses the "astounding" methods by the Patriotic Association and the Religious Affairs Bureau in the unlawful Episcopal ordination. It make China look ridiculous, offends the faithful and damages the interests of the country. He appeals to the central government to start meaningful talks with the Holy See.

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