11/13/2019, 08.54
CHINA-VATICAN
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Mindong, Msgr. Guo Xijin hounded by police to submit to the "independent Church"

by Bernardo Cervellera

For five days he has been under the supervision of public security personnel, under pressure. The Party wants to force him to attend a meeting of the "independent" clergy of Fujian. A member of Mindong: Pray for him, because he is very tired.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Msgr. Vincenzo Guo Xijin, underground bishop, auxiliary of Mindong (Fujian), is being hounded by public security agents to force him to sign up to an "independent Church" in exchange for government recognition.

President Xi Jinping has established that an "independent Church" subject to the Chinese Communist Party is the condition for Catholics to live in China. For underground Catholics, an "independent" Church is unacceptable, given that the Party intends this "independence" also as a detachment from the Holy See and the universal Church. For months, the Fujian authorities have been exerting pressure, blackmailing and threatening priests to push them to sign this accession in exchange for government recognition without which their ministry is forbidden.

Since November 9 last, Msgr. Guo, 61, is under the supervision of two public security guards. Every day, throughout the day at regular intervals, various figures visited him at his headquarters in Luojiang to convince him to sign the adhesion to the Party's policy (photo 2).

The Party also wants the bishop to attend a meeting of the "independent" clergy of the Fujian, which is taking place in Xiamen, after the signing. The meeting will last until November 15. The Party's project is to show the submission of Msgr. Guo to weaken the resistance of underground priests, who are the majority of the clergy of the diocese.

However, Mgr. Guo refuses to go to Xiamen. Yesterday morning he was loaded into a car to take him to Xiamen, but due to the bishop’s opposition, the police then decided to take him to Ningde to submit him to new tactics of persuasion. Finally, in the evening, he was taken to the new curia of the official bishop, Msgr. Zhan Silu. According to local sources, the police "hope that Zhan will convince him to sign."

This afternoon, Msgr. Guo escaped from the Ningde Curia and returned home to Luojiang. His faithful are sure that the police will come looking again for him soon.

Msgr. Vincenzo Guo Xijin is one of the "victims" of the Sino-Vatican agreement, which has made the diocese of Mindong a sort of "pilot project" for the implementation of the agreement. Previously, Msgr. Guo was the ordinary bishop of the diocese, recognized by the Holy See, but not by the government.

The Diocese of Mindong had over 90 thousand Catholics. Of these, at least 80 thousand belonged to the unofficial Church, served by 57 priests, 200 nuns, 300 consecrated lay people and hundreds of lay catechists. The priests of the official community were 12.

Following the agreement between China and the Vatican and the lifting of the excommunication of the official bishop Vincenzo Zhan Silu, at the request of Pope Francis he accepted to be demoted to auxiliary bishop to leave the ordinary seat to Msgr. Zhan.

Msgr. Guo is not yet recognized by the government because they expect him to sign the "independent Church" agreement. But the bishop refuses to sign in solidarity with the many priests who are persecuted.

The situation of the diocese appears wrenched by suffering and confusion: several dozen underground priests, yielding to pressure or for love of the ministry, have agreed to sign the adhesion to the "independent Church", but they are criticized by the faithful.

A member of Mindong confided to AsiaNews that Msgr. Guo "is very tired" and they hope that all Christians in the world will pray for him.

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