12/28/2016, 17.27
CHINA – VATICAN

Old guard and illegitimate bishops dominate the new Catholic Assembly

by Elizabeth Li

Ma Yinglin and Fang Xingyao are re-elected presidents of the Bishops Council and the Patriotic Association, respectively. The principles of independence, autonomy, self-management and sinicisation are extolled. There is no "positive signal" as hoped by the Vatican.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The new leadership of the two government-sanctioned Catholic Church organizations was elected today (Dec 28), the second day of the Ninth Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives held in Beijing since yesterday.

The leaders of the Patriotic Association (PA) and Bishops Council are almost the same as those “elected” from the Eighth Assembly, both of a term of 5 years.

Once again, illegitimate Bishop Ma Yinglin of Kunming has been re-elected as the president of the bishops' council. The papal-approved and Beijing-recognized Bishop Fang Xingyao of Linyi (Shandong) has been re-elected chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA).

Leadership of Bishops’ Council consists of the following bishops as vice presidents: Fang Xingyao of Linyi (Shandong); Shen Bin of Haimen (Jiangsu); [illegitimate] Zhan Silu of Mindong (Fujian); Fang Jianping of Tangshan (Hebei); [illegitimate] Guo Jincai (also as secretary general); Pei Junmin of Liaoning; Li Shan of Beijing; Yang Xiaoting of Yulin (Shaanxi); He Zeqing of Wanzhou, and Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun (Shandong).

CCPA vice presidents are [illegitimate] Ma Yinglin of Kunming (Yunnan); Shen Bin of Haimen (Jiangsu); [illegitimate] Lei Shiyin of Leshan (Sichuan); Liu Yuanlong (layman, also as secretary general); [illegitimate] Huang Bingzhang of Shantou (Guangdong); Shu Nanwu (layman of Jiangxi); [illegitimate] Yue Fusheng of Harbin (Heilongjiang); Meng Qinglu of Hohhot (Inner Mongolia); Sister Wu Lin (of Wuhan) and Shi Xueqin (laywoman of Fujian).

Commenting on the Ninth Assembly, Father Joseph, in Central China, told AsiaNews that the Ninth Assembly has not seen any changes. In addition to the continuous adherence to the principles of independence, autonomy and self-administration, the Assembly also emphasized on “Sinicization” of the Catholic Church in China.

As for the newly-elected leadership of the "Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association" and the "Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China”, it has been almost the same players. Two new faces are Bishop He Zeqing of Wanzhou and Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun (Shandong), both have mandate of the pope and are recognized by the Chinese government.

The status of Bishop Shen Bin has obviously been elevated. He was originally vice chairman of CCPA, and now also vice president of the bishops’ council

Apparently, the “positive signals” expected by the Holy See did not appear; whereas, Wang Zuo’an, director of State Administration for Religious Affairs hopes the Holy See can be "flexible and pragmatic", and that has become a response to the Vatican statement released prior to the Ninth Assembly.

A China-Vatican relations observer told AsiaNews that same personnel means leaving the matter as it is for the present.

A priest in China commented that the atmosphere of the Ninth Assembly was obviously more relaxed and the tone of Wang Zuo’an’s speech was softer than before.

One observer pointed out that there is no mention or appearance of an elderly illegitimate Bishop Tu Shihua of Puqi, who resides in Beijing.

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