09/19/2011, 00.00
CHINA

Shanxi: allegedly corrupt priest defended by Religious Affairs Bureau

by Jian Mei
The rector of Montecorvino Seminary was removed for allegedly embezzling funds earmarked for the institution. However the Religious Affairs Bureau is trying to reinstate him and so stopped the start of the new school year.
Taiyuan (AsiaNews) – The Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) in Shanxi Province has come to the rescue of a former rector of the regional seminary in Shanxi. Whilst bishops removed him from office, the RAB wants him reinstated. Because of the tug-of-war, the seminary has had to delay reopening its doors, originally set for early September.

Fr Anthony Chang Tongxi, 45, was appointed rector of the Shanxi Regional Major Seminary in 2009, which is named after Beijing’s first Catholic archbishop, Franciscan Giovanni da Montecorvino.

Last June, the seminary’s chairman, Mgr John Huo Cheng of Fenyang, told Fr Chang that he was dismissed with immediate effect.

When he came under suspicion of pocketing money earmarked for the seminary, the seminary’s board of directors asked him to submit the seminary’s financial books before the end of June. However, instead of presenting the seminary’s books, Fr Chang turned to the RAB for help and last August, Ministry representatives demanded the reinstatement of the rector, threatening to shut it down for an undetermined period of time if their wish was not met.

A priest from the Montecorvino Seminary told AsiaNews that students were already unhappy with Fr Chang and his way of organising the life of the community, but were always afraid of speaking up openly.

Another priest said he was concerned that the seminary might remain closed for too long, compromising the education of seminarians.

An alumnus of the seminary told AsiaNews that the previous rector, Wu Junwei, who became the bishop of Yungcheng (pictured), could run the seminary better despite current difficulties.

Other seminarians are bitter that the government is getting involved in internal Church matters.
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